Stephen Budiansky takes a look at the history of “voter fraud” / voter suppression tactics used by conservatives to block eligible voters from casting their votes.
The fondly cherished bogeyman of today’s Republicans of “voter fraud” in the form of individuals impersonating others at the polls has essentially zero basis in history or reality: On the contrary, the real history of voter fraud is the use of legal or quasi-legal mechanisms to intimidate, restrict, and suppress legitimate voting by those who threatened the conservative elite’s lock on power.
Current Republican attempts to justify the curtailment of early voting, the imposition of new ID requirements at the polls, and other restrictions in the name of discouraging fraud are especially ironic. These restrictions are in fact a perpetuation of exactly the same species of legalized fraud and voter intimidation that characterized one of the most shameful chapters of American democracy.
The Minnesota Republicans latest effort to suppress the votes of the elderly and poor comes in the form of their Voter ID legislation. How many people will this impact? According to Erik Leist, up to 144,000 eligible voters:
Imagine if the State of Minnesota only required people in Rochester to gain a special form of identification in order to cast their votes. That would be ridiculous. But, what the MN GOP has done is even more ridiculous since they’ve put the burden on the least powerful members of our state: People who, most often due to age or poverty, don’t have photo IDs. They are eligible voters, but the MN GOP doesn’t want them to vote. Or, at least they want to make it so hard for them to vote that some won’t bother, which is a win for the GOP, and a REAL case of voter fraud.
It’s not hard to see why the MN GOP would do this. If even 10% of these eligible voters are disenfranchised by the unnecessary Voter ID hoops they will not be forced to jump through, they may managed to back their way into some election wins. For example, that probably would have done the trick for Tom Emmer.