SOMETIMES THERE’S JUST SMOKE – AND MIRRORS
There is no credible evidence (and certainly no proof), and there is also no rational explanation of motivation, for the oft repeated theory that voter fraud has recently compromised our elections in the United States. (See the difference between voter fraud compared to election fraud.) Despite heavy pressure on mass media reporters and editors, elected officials, election officials, and appointed federal prosecutors around the nation, and despite constantly repeated distortions and outright lies throughout the last decade, no evidence has been found that any systematic or substantial individual voter fraud has been occurring. In fact, not a single instance of voter fraud that would have been prevented by a government issued photo ID has been discovered in this century in Wisconsin.
The two parties have taken opposing positions on the Photo ID bill because of their assessment of the electoral advantage or disadvantage it would provide to each. But partisan advantage is in no way justification for a law that will not improve election security, but will make voting more difficult for certain demographic groups, than it would for others, and thus suppress their vote. Partisan advantage is also not justification for a law that will cause the expenditure of substantial tax money for no valid reason.
It is understandable why a Party – either Party – would prefer that people not vote who they expect will vote against their Party. But it is an un-American and criminal conspiracy for a Party to use positions of trust and responsibility in the government to knowingly and fraudulently attempt to legislate a restrictive change in voting rights and qualifications that is proven to be unnecessary for any constitutionally legitimate purpose, but that is known to be effective in suppressing the vote among certain demographic populations, for purely partisan political advantage. It is wrong for a Party and its partisan promoters to consistently and repeatedly, publicly disseminate misleading information and lies (aka propaganda) in order to cynically create and nurture a “public perception” of widespread, uncontrolled voter fraud, and then use that mistaken perception as justification for their proposed legislative “remedy” for a problem that does not actually exist. When it is made clear that no voter fraud is occurring that would be prevented or detected by Photo ID legislation, legislators have defended their support for such legislation on the grounds that a “public perception” of voter fraud exists. But they, and reviewing courts should neither use nor accept this argument since (1) no actual fraud exists, and (2) members of the Party sponsoring the bill were active in creating the false perceptions. It is wrong for a Party to seek to prevent a vividly imagined and depicted, but highly unlikely vote fraud by a deranged individual, with an alleged remedy that it is known will result in tens of thousands of eligible citizens whose voting rights have been inconvenienced, discouraged, or otherwise suppressed. It is wrong for the exercise of voting rights by certain groups or individuals to be made more difficult or suppressed merely to alleviate other voters unwarranted perceptions of uncontrolled voter fraud that does not actually exist. Your right to vote unobstructed is greater than my right to not be worried by unfounded fears – especially when those fears were manufactured by self-interested Party propaganda, and the truth was also available to the mass media, the politicians, and the courts, but not as widely disseminated and not so incessantly repeated..
Most citizens eligible to vote in Wisconsin and in the United States can, with no effort or forethought, instantly produce a state picture ID with their current address, year after year – most commonly a driver’s license. But a significant number of fully eligible citizens and prospective voters can not. These include people who do not or cannot drive automobiles, people with limited mobility (such as the disabled and the elderly), and people who have recently changed or lost their residence (such as due to marriage or divorce, mortgage foreclosure, fire, loss of employment, job relocation, educational or training opportunity, illness, homelessness, injury, rental eviction, or simply exercising the right to move anywhere in the country). These people are not usually the majority of Americans at any one time, but they comprise a substantial minority of Americans during any election – Americans that nevertheless have civil rights and voting rights that deserve and demand full protection of the law.
Ask yourself, “What could hypothetically be your motive (or mine, or anyone’s) to misrepresent your identity in order to cast a fraudulent vote?” The only possible motivation would be (a) to attempt to change the outcome of the election with one or even several fraudulent votes that you might cast, or (b) to gain some personal reward from another person for doing so. Law enforcement officers and judicial system professionals know that if intentional crime is suspected, look for the motive in order to find the likely perpetrator. A suspect without any motive is an unlikely suspect. So let’s look closer at those two possible motives:
Let’s start with some common sense.
First, a large percentage of Americans do not even bother voting at all because they believe that, due to corruption and corporate or other “special interest” control of the parties and the elections, their vote will not make the slightest difference in what the government is going to do. This large group feels that casting a vote (legal or not) has absolutely zero power or relevance.
Second, very many Americans who do vote would not bother to vote (at all, or as often) if it was even a little more inconvenient, time-consuming, or costly than it currently is. With longer lines, greater distance, more cumbersome preliminary procedures, fewer Americans will vote. (Is a felony prosecution and conviction inconvenient and costly? You bet.) This second group votes somewhat out of a sense of guilt and reluctant obligation, hoping nobody notices when they miss a particularly uninspiring election. “Who (or why, or what) should I vote for?”, is their perennial, annoyed question. This large borderline group votes, when they do, with about the same enthusiasm and expectation of a positive outcome, as a small boy accompanying his mother to shop for a smock for her in the ladies department and a first suit and tie for him in the boys department.
Third, most of us who do always vote are fully aware of the irony that probably not once in our lives have we personally cast a vote that actually changed the outcome of an election. Still we vote, carefully and invariably, every time. Why? Because we believe in democracy; we believe that every citizen should have and cast a ballot in every election; we believe that representative democracy should bend not to the will of any one voter (even if that voter is me), but to the will of all the people; and we believe that the universal ballot, with one vote per person, is a sacred right and responsibility. We believe that if every citizen does not have and exercise the right and responsibility to vote, that democracy is compromised, and ultimately, if enough citizens do not have or exercise that right, democracy fails, is destroyed. We vote because we believe that democracy can work – but only if most citizens accept their fair share of the responsibility, and only if the mass media provides the people with accurate information that is important to our future, and only if democracy hinges on one-person, one-vote, rather than on overwhelming corporate spending on elections and on “contributions” to the two major parties. We vote because of our quaint allegiance to the chimera of the rituals of democracy. This also large group acknowledges and accepts that although we continue to vote in every election, we will almost certainly live and die without ever casting a single vote that actually, by itself, decides the outcome of a single election contest.
Admittedly, there are certainly some rabid ideologues who, if they knew, with absolute certainly, that they would not get seen or caught by anyone – in other words, if they had an ironclad guarantee of immunity from prosecution or even humiliation or observation, would attempt to commit voter fraud. But it’s almost certain that they would know, up front, that their one, two, or three fraudulent votes would almost surely not make any difference in the outcome. And more importantly, probably not a one of them, rabid or committed to his cause as he might be, and as contemptuous of the sanctity of the principles of democracy as he might be, that would risk a five year prison sentence to personally cast a couple of illegal votes and arrogantly try to exert undue influence.
Ask yourself, “Why would any individual take the time and accept the very real and serious risk of a felony conviction and years in prison, in order to cast an almost certainly inconsequential fraudulent vote?” As far as bribes or favors to induce individual fraudulent voting that would steal an election, the number of votes needed makes the offered reward insufficient to overcome fear of a felony conviction and prison in those tempted to cast an illegal vote. More importantly, the number of such votes necessary to steal elections would require an organized effort contacting, instructing, and supervising a large number of potentially corruptible persons. With current election regulations and procedures, and with oversight by volunteer non-partisan observers, prosecutors, and the media, and with the likelihood of a whistle blower, keeping an election fraud operation on such a scale undetected, would be pretty unlikely, and those doing the actual planning and implementation would be exposed to substantial risk of apprehension and years of prison and heavy fines. It is irrational to believe that sufficient motivation exists for any individual to personally commit intentional voter fraud, or to seek to organize and convince many others to do so, thus incurring the strong risk of exposure and a felony conviction with big fines and imprisonment.
Professional election and demographic analysts have informed both major parties that the people that do not have an “acceptable” government issued photo ID with their current address on it when an election occurs, are significantly more likely to vote for Democratic Party candidates than to vote for Republican Party candidates. Attention, please. Now, we’re talking about real motivation for action. But it’s not motivation for an individual to commit voter fraud by impersonating someone else (which hardly ever, or never happens). It’s motivation for the Republican Party and its clients to try, in various ways, to suppress the vote cast by that minority of citizens. But that is an illegal and unconstitutional violation of voting rights. It’s understandable that the professional consultants and campaign managers advising or leading any Party, in this drastically dysfunctional bi-polarized political environment, would investigate and urge any means possible that promises to give that Party some leg-up in coming elections. Major political parties are like corporations, and have no morality and no conscience, only self-interest. But elected government officials, and candidates for such office, are real human beings that have their personal integrity at stake. They also have an explicit sworn obligation to uphold and defend the Constitution and the laws. This duty they must not shirk, regardless of orders and severe pressure from their Party. No eligible voter (no matter what his or her suspected Party preference or socio-economic status) should be unnecessarily and unfairly inconvenienced or otherwise discouraged from voting – especially for crass partisan political advantage. There is no necessity or legitimate purpose served by this proposed additional burden on voting. The Republican Party is on the wrong side on this issue, and it appears that all of it’s elected officials and candidates either agree with the strategy or have knuckled under to strict Party discipline.
If either of the two major political parties want increased political advantage in elections, they should do so by better serving those citizens that currently do not favor them, rather than by discouraging and suppressing their participation in elections.
Ref.: “Election Fraud of Voter Fraud – Which Threatens Your Vote?”