Voter Fraud Nonsense

This item about the complete lack of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania reminded me of a conversation I had recently.

I’m taking a beginning Spanish class offered by the wonderful Tennessee Foreign Languages Institute. I should clarify: it’s avery beginning Spanish class, as in, the most rudimentary basics. For instance, did you know that both the adjectives and the nouns have to agree in regards to gender and singular or plural? Like, there’s a masculine and feminine “blue”? That’s so weird to me. But I digress.

Our Spanish teacher is a very nice older lady from Chile who has told us several really hilarious stories. We all like her a lot. Last week she mentioned her difficulty getting a voter ID — she renewed her license online and since she’s over 60, the state of Tennessee automatically sent her one without a photo. See, this has been the problem with Tennessee’s new Voter ID law: as a convenience to senior citizens, the state allows them to renew a driver’s license online. But what you get in the mail can’t be used to vote because it lacks a photo. When my teacher went to the driver’s license center to correct the problem, she said the wait was four hours long.

I was happy to tell her that as long as her expired ID had a photo, it could be used for voting (the state has done a really crappy job of teling people that.) She was thrilled. Then I said, “getting a picture ID has been difficult for so many people.” To which she replied, “yes but all of those Mexicans voting illegally is such a big problem.”

I was kind of stunned. Really? Mexicans are voting illegally in Tennessee? Whatever for? Why would anyone in the country illegally run the risk of being caught and deported by showing up at an official polling place and voting? This makes sense to people?

And here’s something else I don’t get. Voter turnout in U.S. presidential elections — always the highest turnout of any election — has hovered around 50%for the past 30 years. Granted the past two presidential elections have seen a small uptick, but it’s still less than 60% of the voting age population. We trail the world in voter turnout — though Poland is a close second. It’s so bad that some people have discussed making voting compulsory in the U.S., as they do it in Australia. In fact, it’s an idea Rep. Jim Cooper mentioned at our blogger meetup back in the spring.

I just have to say: if we can’t compel 40% of the eligible public to show up on election day and vote, why does anyone think there are just oodles of people eager to do it illegally? And in such numbers that they could throw an election?

Again: this makes sense to people?

9 thoughts on “Voter Fraud Nonsense

  1. This is a timely piece. TPM reports that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has “stipulated” in a case brought against it contesting their new voter fraud laws that there have been no incidents of voter fraud in Pennsylvania nor anywhere else. They’re admitting that right up front in the lawsuit. This, of course, is the state where one Republican leader said the law will tip their electoral votes to Mitt Romney. I hope the Justice Department acts with enough speed to thwart this gaming of our electoral system.

  2. Just move the voting day to Saturday. Seriously, what’s so hard about that?

  3. Yes, SB, but across our State of TN, now run by the ALEC laws, paid for by the Koch brothers, the efforts to discourage and deny folks their Right to vote are many and insidious. Here in Knoxville, polling places used for EARLY voting have been closed and merged with little warning, the excuses silly, and ludicrous. In Memphis, Shelby County has so much confusion, and in some cases voters’ voting history has been erased, or tampered with so that some can’t prove they voted in the last 2 General elections, which is a requirement to vote in the upcoming General election. The excuse for these draconian measures abound. WE MUST pay attention, make sure our records are current, that we KNOW where to go vote, especially NOW for our Primary elections. It is a shame that we must KEEP fighting for our precious Right To Vote.

  4. Knowing the problem with high-tech databases, wouldn’t it be easier to just mark the hand of the voter with indellible ink?
    And if someone isn’t going to vote because there isn’t a law saying they have to, and only votes when rounded up by the sherriff, I’d think that they probably also haven’t taken the time to learn the issues and it is bettr if they don’t vote.

  5. Well, demoralization and disenfranchisement go hand in hand. We have huge numbers of people who don’t vote largely because they have been trained–by experience–to be demoralized (the “won’t make any difference” and “don’t vote for `em, it only encourages them” camps). This is very much the fault of the two major parties, right down to the county level, because they’re the ones running and funding the candidates that have made so little difference to those people’s lives. Both tactics work to benefit the party with the most reliable base, and right now, that’s the Republicans.
    There’s a significant difference in how people identify, and how they poll on individual issues, so much so that it seems obvious to me that if either main party’s platform and behavior in government reflected that polling, it might pull people back into the voting booths. Not all, but enough to matter.

  6. re: demoralization and disenfranchisement, back in 2004 when I worked on the Kerry campaign in Tennessee I was shocked to come across African American women in low income neighborhoods who didn’t vote (and wouldn’t register) because, they said, “it’s against the teachings of my church.” It was explained tome that this particular denomination believed that things like voting put the government above God or some such ridiculousness.
    It was completely crazy to me. But when you’re running a GOTV campaign, telling people their church is oppressing you is frowned upon by the campaign. đŸ™‚
    I really had no clue that a denomination existed which preached against voting. I still don’t know which church they belonged to. I ran into enough of these people — always African American — in enough different scenarios that I thought it wasn’t just one fringe congregation in town but actually an entire denomnination. Maybe Jehova’s Witness but I’m not sure. Has anyone heard of a religious denomination which tells its congregants not to vote?

  7. “Has anyone heard of a religious denomination which tells its congregants not to vote?”
    Up until thirty-five or forty years ago, it was very common among evangelicals, white and black. And then Irving Kristol, Paul Weyrich and others put their heads together and decided that evangelicals were a great untapped source of voters that could sway elections, and began to cultivate them as a voting bloc beginning with Reagan’s 1980 campaign.
    There was Reagan’s speech to the National Association of Religious Broadcasters, in which he said, “I know you can’t endorse me, but I endorse you.” And teevee preachers such as James Robison (he of questionable judgment in bringing George W. Bush to born-again status) who (in)famously said in front of thousands of followers: “I’m sick and tired of hearing about all of the radicals, and the perverts, and the liberals, and the leftists, and the communists coming out of the closet, it’s time for God’s people to come out of the closet, out of the churches, and change America. We must do it.”
    It was a call for them to renounce the belief that participation in worldly political affairs was apostasy, and most of them heeded that call in the service of Republicans. Those women you met who resisted that call probably were members of black Pentecostal churches, or perhaps some of the AME Zion churches which had histories of splits with their white church hierarchies. Such parishioners were intensely interested in the well-being of their communities, but only through the efforts of the church itself as a symbol of community.

  8. montaq,
    I did some research and saw that it is indeed the Jehova’s Witnesses who don’t believe in voting.
    I know evangelicals used to stay out of politics but that never extended to actual voting to my knowledge. It did mean they did not politic from the pulpit or mobilize the flock as we see now.

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