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Mona Charen
Mona Charen
24 Oct 2014
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Voter ID Myth Crashes

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Democrats want everyone to vote: old, young, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, citizen, non-citizen. Wait, what was that last one again? We'll get to that.

Voter ID laws, passed by 30 states so far, are efforts by legislatures to ensure the integrity of votes. Being asked to show a photo ID can diminish several kinds of fraud, including impersonation, duplicate registrations in different jurisdictions and voting by ineligible people including felons and non-citizens.

The Democrats have made a number of arguments against voter ID laws. They argue a) that the problem of voter impersonation or in-person voter fraud is nonexistent, b) that black and poor voters are more likely than others to lack a valid ID and c) that Republicans are attempting to "suppress" the votes of Democratic constituencies in a bid to revive Jim Crow.

To believe a), you must assume that Americans, who engage in widespread tax evasion (an estimated $2 trillion in income goes unreported), insurance fraud (an estimated $80 billion worth in 2006), identity theft (15 million victims annually) and thousands of other deceptions and crimes large and small, are perfect angels when they step into the voting booth. Vote fraud simply "doesn't exist," pronounced Attorney General Eric Holder.

It's extremely difficult to track vote fraud. Most states put only halfhearted efforts into purging their voter registration rolls of the dead or those who've moved out of state. Prosecutions for vote fraud are rare. But prosecutions for perjury are rare, too — and not because it "doesn't exist." Earlier this year, the Virginia Voters Alliance found that more than 44,000 people were simultaneously registered to vote in Maryland and Virginia. Catherine Engelbrecht's True the Vote found some 6.9 million overlapping voter registrations in the 28 states they examined. For those unburdened by conscience who live close to the border, it's more than possible to vote early and often.

Being registered in more than one jurisdiction doesn't prove you committed fraud, only that you've arranged things to permit it or that you've overlooked this detail of good citizenship by absentmindedness. But convincing evidence that vote fraud is both real and consequential has appeared.

A new academic paper published in the journal Electoral Studies provides evidence of voting by non-citizens that directly contradicts the Democrats' "nothing to see here" mantra. Under the neutral headline "Do Non-Citizens Vote in U.S. Elections?" three professors from Virginia universities answer in the affirmative. Using an enormous database of voters nationwide (32,800 from 2008, and 55,400 in 2012), the authors find that about one-quarter of the non-citizens who participated in the survey were registered to vote.

Studying survey responses, the authors judge that non-citizen voters tend to favor Democratic candidates by large margins.

In many states, their participation wouldn't be large enough to make a difference, but in North Carolina in 2008, the authors calculate, non-citizens may well have tipped the state into Barack Obama's column. "So what?" you may say. Even if John McCain had won that state, it wouldn't have changed the outcome of the national election. True, but remember the presidential race in 2000? Remember "hanging chad" Florida?

Several House seats, and one very significant Senate seat, were probably won by Democrats on the strength of illegal votes. In 2008, the authors note, Sen. Al Franken won by just 312 votes in Minnesota. That seat was the 60th vote to give Democrats a filibuster-proof supermajority to pass major legislation like Obamacare. "(Voting) participation by just 0.65 percent of non-citizens in Minnesota is sufficient to account for the entirety of Franken's margin. Our best guess is that nearly 10 times as many voted."

Voter ID laws will not prevent non-citizens from voting. Green card holders and even illegal aliens get driver's licenses. But that's not an argument against voter IDs. It's an argument for issuing driver's licenses that specify non-citizenship.

As for blacks being "targeted" by voter ID laws, a study by Reuters found almost no difference (2 versus 3 percent) in the number of white and black voters who lacked ID.

Voting is a semi-sacred act of civic religion. Trust that only those eligible are determining our future as a nation is the foundation of civic peace. Voter ID laws should be just one part of ensuring voter integrity. When Democrats resist those measures, it only feeds suspicion that they're trying to steal elections.

Mona Charen is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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