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Little reason to battle against voter ID laws

Voter ID Fraud

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board

When they go to the polls in a few weeks, voters in many states, including Oklahoma, will be asked to show some form of identification. This is no thanks to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who made it his mission during six years on the job to undo a number of voter ID laws.

Holder, who is stepping aside soon, went so far as to compare voter ID laws to bygone Jim Crow-inspired laws designed to tamp down minority participation. The comparisons were beyond ridiculous, particularly given that in state after state, voter ID laws have withstood legal challenges from liberal interests.

Writing recently for the Washington Examiner, John Fund of National Review and former Justice Department official Hans von Spakovsky touched on the most recent victories for voter ID. Among them:

Wisconsin’s new law will be in effect for the November election, after a federal appeals court in September dissolved an injunction issued by a lower-court judge. The appeals court noted that Wisconsin’s law was “materially identical to Indiana’s photo ID statute,” which the U.S. Supreme Court had found constitutional in 2008. That decision, by the way, was 6-3 and was written by liberal Justice John Paul Stevens.

In Tennessee, voter ID opponents lost and the new law went into effect in 2012. A federal judge cited the Supreme Court’s finding in the Indiana case, saying that “whether the plaintiffs like it or not,” that case provided the controlling legal precedent.

That same year, South Carolina won a fight over voter ID. A three-judge panel rejected Holder’s contention that the law was discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act. There have been no reports of problems since the law went into effect.

In August, a federal judge refused to issue an injunction against North Carolina’s new voter ID law, which is in Holder’s cross hairs. The attorney general is going after a new law in Texas, which went into effect for the November 2013 state elections. “Contrary to the claims made in Holder’s new lawsuit … turnout in the 2013 election went up, not down, and there is no evidence that anyone’s vote was ‘suppressed,’” Fund and von Spakovsky wrote.

Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi and Alabama are some of the other states that have recently implemented voter ID laws without incident. One of the rare victories for opponents came in Pennsylvania, which decided not to appeal a court decision that put the new law on ice.

“But the trend is clear,” Fund and von Spakovsky said. “Voter support for cleaner elections is strong and is attracting support in some Democratic states.”

Opponents of voter ID argue that concerns about voter fraud are widely overstated by proponents. The authors concur that in-person voter fraud isn’t rampant. But they also noted that last year, undercover agents with New York City’s Department of Investigation claimed at 63 polling places to be people who in fact had moved, died or were in jail. In 61 instances, they were allowed to vote.

Those who like to say fraud isn’t a problem at the polls also dismiss data showing voter ID laws don’t suppress turnout. After Georgia’s law took effect in 2008, 65 percent of the black voting-age population cast ballots. Barack Obama was on the ticket, but even two years later (when he wasn’t), 50.4 percent of registered black Georgians voted (compared with 42.9 percent in 2006).

Holder and his ilk don’t like hearing it, but what Fund and Spakovsky wrote is true: “Voter ID laws improve the honesty and efficiency of elections. They can also empower people on the margins of society.”