January 08, 2008
Question: What issue would bring together such powerful special interest groups such as the ACLU, the NAACP, Common Cause, the American Jewish Committee, the National Black, Asian, and Latino Law Student Associations and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund?
Answer: The defense of the status quo in America's inefficient and inaccurate election system—which delivers raw political power to America's underclass of illegal aliens.
Today, Wednesday January 9, the U.S. Supreme Court is to hear oral arguments in the Indiana Democratic Party v. Todd Rokita and William Crawford v. Marion County Election Board cases. [Tougher voter ID laws fuel debate, USATODAY.com, December 19, 2007] The debate centers on the state of Indiana's attempts to protect its elections by requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls.
Laws protecting voters against fraud are fast being put in place—26 states have some sort of Election Day proof of identity conditions and at least eight states have established tough voter ID laws in the last five years. However, this common sense proof of identity (you and I do so every time we cash a check or board an airplane) is being challenged by an army of special interest groups.
In the last two years, photo ID laws in Indiana, Georgia, and Arizona have been upheld in lower courts, while a Missouri law was blocked from taking effect. [Supreme Court to hear voter ID case, By David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times, September 26, 2007]. By agreeing to hear an appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court indicated that it wanted this dispute resolved before voters go to the polls this November.
The photo ID issue has united and incited into action many of those who have yet to get over the 2000 Bush-versus-Gore election controversy. "Many accused the Supreme Court of partisanship in deciding Bush v. Gore, and some voting rights advocates fear that the court could make things worse," warned Loyola Law School professor Richard L. Hasen, [A Voting Test for the High Court , Washington Post, September 19, 2007]. Hasen also noted, "there's more than a little bit of irony in going to the Supreme Court and asking them to rise above partisan politics in election cases." [Supreme Court to weigh in on voter ID laws , by Mark Sherman, USA Today, December 30, 2007}
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim to serve in Congress and part of the gang of usual suspects filing Amici Briefs opposing Indiana, alleges "the photo identification requirement would present barriers to voting." [PDF] . Signing onto Mr. Ellison's brief was the entire Congressional Black Caucus as well as—Senator Barack Obama, who demands voters have "unfettered access to the polls in every state."
Donna Brazile, chairwoman of the Democratic party's Voting Rights Institute and Al Gore's 2000 campaign manager, asserts "the Supreme Court will have an opportunity to right a wrong perpetrated by the GOP". She claims, "unjust and highly restrictive voter ID laws" are part of "a reprehensible partisan scheme to suppress voter turnout." [Supreme Court will hear voter ID case, By David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2008].
America's Exhibit Number One: an article in the Washington Times which begins, "voter turnout among Democrats improved slightly last year in Indiana, despite a new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls ..." It goes on to describe a University of Missouri report that found Indiana's voter turnout increased about two percentage points, with the highest percentage of Democrats. [Photo ID law didn't hurt turnout in Indiana By Stephen Dinan, November 27, 2007]
America's Exhibit Number Two: the American Unity Legal Defense Fund Amicus brief in support of Indiana, which cites many court findings including:
You may also wish to refer to any number of Amici briefs in support of Indiana, including the one filed collectively by the Attorneys General of Texas, Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, Nebraska, Puerto Rico, and South Dakota which discusses the need to address voter fraud and the various approaches that states have taken to this end.
Then there is someone who could be considered an expert witness: Bradley A. Smith, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. He said Indiana's challengers "made a mistake in bringing this case on such a thin record."
Finally, there is an exhaustive analysis issued by the Heritage Foundation: New Analysis Shows Voter Identification Laws Do Not Reduce Turnout.
Proof of eligibility to vote appears to be the core issue in the Indiana case. But the larger question is addressing a widespread malaise that undermines the U.S. election system.
"Confidence in the electoral process is essential to the functioning of our participatory democracy. Voter fraud drives honest citizens out of the democratic process ... Voters who fear their legitimate votes will be outweighed by fraudulent votes will feel disenfranchised."
But voters have long held doubts about the fairness of elections. A Rasmussen Research poll taken just before the controversial November 2004 elections found that 58% of Americans believed that there was a lot or some fraud in American elections. [PDF]) Pollster John Zogby reported in 2006: "Nearly two years into the second term of his presidency, less than half of those polled think that the 2004 election victory was 'fair and square.'" Zogby—Voters Question Outcome Of '04 Election).
And although Election Day confusion and corruption have made news headlines in recent years, the under-reported angle is the growing voting number of voting scams by non-citizens and illegal aliens.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), defensively arguing against Indiana in its Amicus Brief [PDF], claims voter identification laws are "schemes," which are "racially motivated". MALDEF makes the fantastic allegation that in-person voter impersonation fraud "does not exist."[Brief For Petitioners PDF ]
In the real world, there is prima facie evidence of voting fraud by illegal aliens:
"Today we march; tomorrow we vote!" is the chant led by militants and political agitators at rallies where protestors demand "rights" for illegal aliens. [Illegal Immigrants Say Boycotts Aren't The End to Reform Struggle, May 02, 2006]
MALDEF actually declares in its amicus brief [PDF] that the Indiana law and other practical measures to protect voter rights are "racially motivated" and "substantially burden the voting rights of minority citizens." This is absurd, of course, since Indiana and most states provide picture IDs free of charge, and photo identification is generally recognized as a practical and legitimate means of preventing fraud.
Despite minimal media attention, the sexy part of the Indiana voter ID case is not what Judge Terence Evans, a Clinton appointee, wrote in dissenting from the Seventh Circuit Court's majority ruling: "Let's not beat around the bush, the Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage Election Day turnout by certain folks ..." This contention conflicts with the recommendations of the 2005 Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker, III. Their report maintains: "Voters in nearly 100 democracies use a photo identification card without fear of infringement on their rights."[PDF]
What is hot about the Indiana case is the underlying problem of voters who fear their legitimate votes will be outweighed by non-citizen fraud. Or, as the Supremes said in the Gonzalez v. Arizona case cited above, "Voters ... feel disenfranchised." [PDF]
And, not to put too fine a point on the issue, in Gonzalez v. Arizona, the Ninth District Circuit Court found that more than 230 illegals voted in that state.
Voter disenchantment is based on their day-to-day observation of the lack of immigration law enforcement. The threat posed by non-citizens to the election process is growing for a variety of reasons—or example, illegal immigrants use voting records as evidence of employment eligibility, encouraging identity theft crimes in employment-related documentation.
Add to the non-economic incentive illegals have to defraud election-related activities—increased political "clout" in hopes of achieving immigration law changes—and you have a volatile mix of special interests.
Indiana's Secretary of State, Todd Rokita, filed a "Brief of State Respondents" supporting the Hoosier's state voter ID law with the Supreme Court.
Mr. Rokita identifies yet another sharp angle on the Indiana case:
"In addition to protecting against voter fraud, the photo ID law promotes security in the modern day world of identity theft." Rokita states. "Since it was enacted in 2005, six Indiana elections have demonstrated that the photo ID law is well crafted," and "in light of such widespread demands for ... government-issued photo identification, it is almost shocking that in late 2007 Indiana can be characterized as even unusual in requiring it at the polls." [State of Indiana Files Brief in United States Supreme Court Case, Muncie Free Press, December 3, 2007]
Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner, in his majority opinion upholding the law requiring voters to carry ID, said that voter identification is not a burden considering that "it is exceedingly difficult to maneuver in today's America without a photo ID ... try flying, or even entering a tall building such as the courthouse in which we sit."
Identity theft is a popular crime that impacts everything from banks to ballot boxes. In 2005, Utah's legislative audit bureau attempted to undertake a systematic study of illegal immigrants who had obtained state identification cards—either driver's license or state identification cards—and suspected that 383 illegal immigrants were registered to vote. Utah asked ICE to review these registered voters to confirm if they were U.S. citizens. ICE examined 135 cases as a sample and determined that one person was a permanent legal resident, five were naturalized citizens, 20 were "deportable," and the other 109 had no record and were likely in the United States illegally. But fourteen of the 383 individuals in question voted in a Utah election. [Tighter license rules hit illegal immigrants, By Daniel C. Vock, Stateline.org, August 24, 2007]
The common sense of voter IDs rings true with Middle America. A poll taken in 2006 by Rasmussen Reports found 77% of likely voters across the country believe that displaying a photo ID should be required to cast a vote. Rasmussen conducted a survey of Georgia voters last summer and found that 84% of that state's voters agree. [Supreme Court to Hear Case Requiring Photo ID to Vote, 77% of Voters Favor Requirement, Rasmussen Reports, September 25, 2007]
In 2004, polls in New Mexico also showed a 77% margin in support of voter ID, including 66% of self-identified Democrats.
Where does the issue go from here? The Supreme Court is expected to decide the Indiana case in the spring. But whatever it decides, the entire election system in the U.S. will undoubtedly remain flawed and vulnerable.
American voters might be more secure if we adopted Mexico's election system (see Allan Wall's Voter registration—Texas vs. Mexico, and Why Is Mexico's Voter Registration System Better Than Ours?).
A sensible approach are the initiatives taken by many state and local jurisdictions, such as Kansas (see KTUL-TV story, "Hispanics Moving Out Of Oklahoma Before New Law Takes Effect") Hazleton, Pennsylvania , and Prince William County, Virginia .
No single presidential candidate , or Supreme Court opinion will bring comprehensive relief from the burden of illegal immigration.
Only an educated and motivated grass roots coalition—"Middle American Radicals" as the late pundit Sam Francis would say—will ensure all three branches of government are on our side in the America's Great Patriotic War.
Peter B. Gemma [email him], a columnist with Middle American News, has written more than 100 commentaries for USA Today and for such publications as the Washington Examiner and Military History magazine. He edited SHOTS FIRED: Sam Francis on America's Culture War, a collection of the work of the late VDARE.COM columnist, which was published last year.