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A solution in search of a problem
A recent letter to the Macon County News extolled the virtues of voter ID laws indicating that they would “…safeguard against non-citizens and illegal criminal aliens voting and diluting the vote of American citizens….” Then the writer went down a lengthy list of common activities for which a person must present an ID. (Open a bank account, cash a check, purchase alcoholic beverages, yada, yada, yada…) So, anybody who does virtually anything in our society must have proper ID. Right? WRONG! An analysis by the North Carolina State Board of Elections shows that more than NINE percent of registered voters in NC do not have a government issued ID card. That’s more than 600,000 people. And guess what? More than 500,000 of these people regularly vote.
North Carolina passed a voter ID law in 2018 but it was not used in the 2020 elections because the courts found that parts of the law were “motivated, at least in part, by discriminatory intent.” The legislature is trying to remedy this and create rules which can get approved by the courts. And the 2018 law was created to replace the 2013 voter ID law which the courts struck down as unconstitutional due to racial discrimination.
Voter fraud is incredibly rare. After the 2016 election, the NC State Board of Elections conducted an audit of the votes. They found 508 allegations of voter fraud out of 4.8 million ballots cast. The “allegations” of fraud were 0.01 percent of the votes cast. And only ONE case out of those 508 was of someone impersonating another voter at the polls-which is the kind of fraud that voter ID is meant to stop. Similar audits across the nation show similar results.
Do you still think that we should enact a law which will prevent hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians from voting? Then let’s take a quick look at how voter impersonation works.
Yakov wants to help his favorite candidate to win an election. He must find the name of the voter he wishes to impersonate. He chooses William Smith. But first he needs to do some research. He needs to find out where Mr. Smith votes, Mr. Smith’s street address and his date of birth because election officials will ask for this information and check it against their records as well as his signature, which can be compared with the signature on file at the local Board of Elections. So Yakov goes to the polling location and tells the election officials that he is William Smith. Of course, he runs the risk that William Smith is no longer a registered voter at that precinct because he has moved, died, been convicted of a felony or purged from the voting rolls for other reasons. Or that William has already voted by mail, at an early voting site or earlier that day at this precinct. Or that the election officials know William Smith (most election workers live in the precinct where they are working) and they know that Yakov ain’t no William Smith. Can you say BUSTED? Now Yakov faces state and federal felony charges which could result in stiff fines and lengthy prison sentences.
To make matters worse for Yakov, 75% of North Carolina voters participated in the 2020 election. That means that there is a three in four chance that William Smith has already voted or will be voting soon. So, when Yakov chooses a voter to impersonate, he had better be sure that the voter is not going to vote in this election.
Do you still think anyone would risk this?
Ok, maybe a few would be so stupid. But to change the results of the election Yakov and those who think like him will have to convince HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of other people to risk becoming felons by trying to cast a fraudulent vote and they would all need to vote for the same candidate. It is ludicrous to even think that this is happening.
So, do we really want a law which could deny hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians the right to vote? And do we really want to slow down the voting process by making everybody show their government issued ID when they appear to vote? If you are still convinced that a voter ID law is necessary to prevent the Yakov’s of the world from impersonating voters, then please submit a letter to the editor and show evidence that this is a widespread problem which is changing the results of elections. And if you have no evidence to offer, can we at least be honest and agree that voter ID laws are simply another form of voter suppression to keep “those people” from voting?
Don’t you wish our legislators would spend their time and OUR money working on things which actually benefit North Carolinians. How much of OUR money are they spending defending these lawsuits and trying to make it harder to vote? Don’t you wish they could do things like passing a clean Medicaid expansion law- as 38 other states have done- so that more than 600,000 more North Carolinians have access to quality medical care?
Gary St.Arnauld – Franklin, N.C.