If liberals couldn’t convince Justice Stevens, they may also have a hard time with Chris Matthews, a former Tip O’Neill staffer and reliable liberal cheerleader in most circumstances. When the topic came up on Hardball, Matthews admitted that this type of impersonation fraud has “gone on since the Fifties.” He explained that people call up to see whether you voted or are going to vote, and “then all of a sudden somebody does come and vote for you.” Matthews knows that this is an old strategy in big-city politics: “I know all about it in North Philly — it’s what went on, and I believe it still goes on.”
In addition to deterring and preventing impersonation fraud, voter ID can prevent voting under fictitious registrations, double voting by individuals registered in more than one state, and voting by illegal aliens. There are numerous cases of these types of fraud. Dozens of ACORN employees have been prosecuted for voter-registration fraud — and those are only the ones who have been caught. If a fraudulent form gets through the minimal-to-nonexistent screening efforts made by election officials when they process new voter-registration forms, then the potential exists for bogus votes to be cast in the names of nonexistent people.
The possibility of double voting was illustrated by an incident that was highly embarrassing to the League of Women Voters in the Indiana voter-ID case. A newspaper in Indiana decided to interview a voter who was highlighted by the League as a victim of disenfranchisement in its amicus brief contesting the law. It turned out she had had difficulty voting because she had tried to use a Florida driver’s license to vote in Indiana. Not only did she have a Florida driver’s license, she was also registered to vote in Florida, where she owned a second home. In fact, she had claimed residency in Florida by filing for a homestead exemption on her property taxes.
More than one study has found individuals who are registered in more than one state. A New York Daily News article in 2004 found 46,000 New Yorkers registered to vote in both New York and Florida. Between 400 and 1,000 had voted in both places in at least one election. (Remember, George W. Bush won Florida in 2000 by a margin of only 537 votes.)
There have also been many reported cases of non-citizens’ registering and voting. A federal grand-jury report released in 1984 found large numbers of aliens registered to vote in Chicago. The U.S. attorney estimated that at least 80,000 illegal aliens were registered, and dozens were indicted and convicted for registering and voting.
Readers may remember that a California congressional election was almost overturned in 1996 because of illegal voting by non-citizens. Loretta Sanchez beat incumbent U.S. Rep. Bob Dornan by a mere 979 votes. The election was investigated by a House committee that found “clear and convincing” evidence of 624 invalid votes by non-citizens and “circumstantial” evidence of another 196 non-citizens’ voting. This election might have been stolen by illegal voting (and it probably was, since the House investigation compared the voter list only to INS records, which do not contain information on illegal aliens who have not been detained).
There may not be massive voter fraud in all of our elections, but there are enough reported cases and prosecutions to make it obvious that we need to take basic steps to ensure the security of our voting system.
The baseless claim that voter ID is a Republican plot to depress the votes of minorities, who disproportionately support Democrats, certainly isn’t made by those Democrats who overwhelmingly control the Rhode Island legislature that passed voter ID. State representative Jon Brien, a Democratic sponsor of the bill, said it was wrong for party leaders to “make this a Republican-versus-Democrat issue. It’s not. It’s simply a good-government issue.” Brien added that “we as representatives have a duty to the citizenry to ensure the integrity of our elections, and the requirement to show an ID will ensure that integrity.” State senator Harold Metts, a black Democrat whose support of Rhode Island’s voter-ID bill angered the ACLU and other leftist organizations, said he was “more interested in doing the right thing and stopping voter fraud.” And polling shows that the so-called leaders of the civil-rights establishment who oppose voter ID are actually out of touch with their constituents, who recognize that voter fraud often hits hardest in minority communities.