Politics & Policy

Election Integrity Is Essential for True Democracy

(Charles Mostoller/Reuters)
Supporting voter-ID laws is common sense for conservatives and all Americans.

Liberals who aren’t too bothered by electoral fraud studiously ignore every argument that conservatives make about the need for election integrity. Instead, they insist that conservatives support voter-ID measures for strictly nefarious reasons.

Now they seem to be excited about what I said in a recent radio interview concerning the Virginia governor’s executive action granting voting rights to felons:

The Left is trying to draw votes from illegals, from voter fraud, a lot of different things; so this kind of fits right in to trying to find another group that they can basically count on to vote their way. So it’s really a bigger issue, and that’s why the Left fights voter ID or any kind of picture ID to know that it is actually a registered voter who’s voting. And so it’s something we’re working on all over the country, because in the states where they do have voter-ID laws you’ve seen, actually, elections begin to change towards more conservative candidates.

Sorry for quoting myself, but facts are important for this conversation. The Atlantic called it a “Kinsley gaffe,” a situation when a politician accidentally reveals some inconvenient truth he isn’t supposed to say. But the truth here is neither inconvenient nor hard to discern: Voter fraud benefits lawbreakers at the expense of the law-abiding, and eliminating voter fraud naturally benefits the people who follow the rules. And the available evidence suggests those who violate election laws are more likely to be liberals rather than conservatives.

While members of both parties have been convicted of election fraud, an extensive database compiled by the Heritage Foundation shows that the majority of such cases involved Democrats stealing votes. Moreover, when voting fraud occurs, it most often occurs in precincts that tend to vote heavily for liberal candidates. The point in my recent interview was that such facts explain why those on the left are so opposed to fighting election fraud — precisely because they benefit from it. It is obvious that curtailing illegal behavior that benefits one group at the expense of another might benefit the latter group, but that is certainly no argument against enforcing the law. Stopping voter fraud simply makes it harder for fraudsters to steal elections.

RELATED: Just in Time for 2016, Hillary Aims to Dismantle Voter Id, Expand Early Voting

This is common sense. That might be why, as The Atlantic grudgingly admits, polls consistently show overwhelming support for election-integrity measures such as voter ID. That support cuts across all racial, ethnic, and party lines. Americans recognize that every vote cast illegally — be it by a non-citizen, a felon, or a multiple-voter — negates the vote of a legitimate voter, effectively disenfranchising them.

#share#States and local jurisdictions can and should take common-sense steps to assure the security and integrity of the election process. That includes requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote and voter ID at the polls. It also involves cleaning up voter-registration rolls by removing dead people and other ineligible voters. All of these measures make it harder to engage successfully in fraud. None of them makes it appreciably harder to cast legitimate votes.

Requiring an ID to vote does not keep any legitimate voter out of the polls.

Heritage has done numerous studies on election turnout in states that have implemented voter-ID laws (with free IDs for the very few who don’t have one). They show conclusively that requiring an ID to vote does not keep any legitimate voter out of the polls; in fact, turnout has gone up in many states after their ID laws became effective. The only people deterred by voter-ID laws are ineligible voters or those who cast ballots under false names or in the names of others, living or dead.

This is why courts have upheld voter-ID laws in state after state. The evidence is overwhelming that they are neither discriminatory nor an unreasonable burden on voters.

RELATED: The Obama Administration Wants to Make Sure Non-Citizens Vote in the Upcoming Election

The U.S. Supreme Court agrees. In 2008, the Court upheld Indiana’s voter-ID law as constitutional. In announcing the judgment, Justice John Paul Stevens stated that “flagrant examples of such fraud . . . have been documented throughout this Nation’s history by respected historians and journalists, that occasional examples have surfaced in recent years, and that . . . not only is the risk of voter fraud real but that it could affect the outcome of a close election.”

With courts, legislatures, and a majority of Americans in agreement, the onus is on progressives: Why make it easier to break the law and compromise the votes of their fellow Americans? So far, they’ve answered with few truths of their own — inconvenient or otherwise.

— Jim DeMint is the president of the Heritage Foundation.


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