Editorial: Election confirms once again what voter ID laws are really about

In case you missed it yesterday, be sure to check out the latest lead editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer: “The 2020 election did expose one fraud: the GOP case for Voter ID.”

As the editorial explains, the recently concluded election, in which more Americans than ever cast a vote, demonstrated once again why voter ID laws serve no useful purpose other than to discourage lawful voters from voting. After explaining how, despite a nationwide GOP effort to ferret out fraud, virtually none has been found, the editorial puts it this way:

If there was an election in which the GOP could prove widespread voter fraud instead of just imagining it, 2020 was it.

Instead, Americans learned what experts had long told us. Election fraud is rare, and the kind of fraud that Voter ID would address – people going to a precinct and attempting to vote as someone else – is almost non-existent. As of Thursday, the Trump campaign and other Republican interests have filed more than 30 election lawsuits in 6 states. No court has found a single instance of fraud.

That shouldn’t be a surprise. One exhaustive study of 12 years of elections in five states found only 500 cases of alleged voter fraud. In 2016, North Carolina’s Board of Elections found that 4,769,640 votes were cast in November and that one would probably have been avoided with a voter ID law.

And while the editorial readily concedes that there will always be isolated incidents of fraud anytime 150 million people cast ballots, it rightfully observes that a much more dangerous threat to the integrity of elections is to be found in the behavior of Trump toadies like Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who tried to get the Georgia Secretary of State to toss out legal ballots in areas that voted for President-elect Biden. Here’s the excellent conclusion:

That’s fraudulent, too, by the way. But it’s not new. In North Carolina, Republican lawmakers have spent the past decade pushing for measures that make it harder for their opponents’ supporters to cast a ballot. They crafted a 2013 grab bag of voter suppression measures, including new voter identification requirements, that a federal court threw out because it deliberately diluted the power of Black voters and targeted them with “almost surgical precision.” They’ve had a subsequent attempt at Voter ID blocked by state and federal judges because of the possibility of discriminatory intent. A federal appeals court heard oral arguments on that law in September.

Such measures have long been unnecessary, and the 2020 election once again showed why. Americans didn’t cheat. We voted. Republicans should stop trying to make that harder.

Click here to read the entire editorial.

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