As the election moves into the home stretch, Democrats are intensifying their efforts to get the courts to strike down voting integrity measures in several states. So far, they have been at least partially successful in three states: Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Kansas.
Courts have dealt setbacks in three states to Republican efforts that critics contend restrict voting rights — blocking a North Carolina law requiring photo identification, loosening a similar measure in Wisconsin and halting strict citizenship requirements in Kansas.
The rulings Friday came as the 2016 election moves into its final phase, with Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton locked in a high-stakes presidential race and control of the U.S. Senate possibly hanging in the balance. North Carolina is one of about a dozen swing states in the presidential race, while Wisconsin has voted Democratic in recent presidential elections and Kansas has been solidly Republican.
The decisions followed a similar blow earlier this month to what critics said was one of the nation’s most restrictive voting laws in Texas. The New Orleans-based U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals said Texas’ voter ID law is discriminatory and must be weakened before the November election.
On Friday, a three-judge panel of the Virginia-based 4th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked North Carolina’s law that limited to six the number of acceptable photo IDs. The law also curtailed early voting and eliminated same-day registration.
The court said the North Carolina provisions targeted African Americans with “almost surgical precision.”
Critics of photo ID requirements say they fall disproportionately on minority voters and the poor, who are less likely to have an ID such as a driver’s license and tend to vote Democratic. Supporters say they photo IDs are needed to combat voter fraud.
Election-law expert Richard Hasen of the University of California at Irvine said the Obama administration took on the North Carolina and Texas cases as a bulwark against voting restrictions.
“If North Carolina and Texas could get away with these voting restrictions, it would have been a green light for other states to do so,” he said. “I think this is a hugely important decision.”
In the Kansas ruling, a county judge said the state must count thousands of votes in local and state elections from people who did not provide proof of U.S. citizenship when they registered. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a national leader in Republican voter restriction efforts, had pushed through a rule that would have set those votes aside, perhaps up to 50,000 by the November election.
So, I guess all these “poor” black people never cash a check, don’t drive cars, take a train, or fly out of an airport, nor can they make it to a secretary of state’s office where they can purchase an ID for a nominal amount. This ridiculous argument — that voting integrity laws are “targeting” minorities and are “restrictive” — is proved false by the numbers. Minority turnout in Georgia actually went up the first election after the voter ID law was implemented. The same thing happened in Wisconsin. Obviously, the notion that these are “voter suppression” laws is absurd.
But Democrats use these laws to paint Republicans as meanies who hate black people. It’s a clumsy political argument that only works on the weak minded — mostly media types who are too lazy to check the facts.
Even if the laws restricted access to the ballot box, it would be because the goal of preventing voter fraud was paramount to other considerations. We keep hearing that voter fraud is extremely rare and we shouldn’t worry about it. In fact, no one knows how prevalent fraud is in the voting process because we do so little at the state level to prevent it. Voter rolls are a mess with dead voters still eligible to vote, people no longer living in a state maintained as eligible, and fake names (“Bugs Bunny,” “Tinkerbell,” etc.) on the registrar’s books.
By far the biggest concern is illegal aliens voting in great numbers. Critics of voter ID laws point out that few illegals are prosecuted for voter fraud. This is true. But is it because no one tries to catch them or because it doesn’t happen?
Voting integrity is a safeguard that everyone’s vote will count equally. This drive to make them illegal suggests one political party would rather make fraud a lot easier than it should be.