Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) initiated the request with the GAO that led to the newly released report on voter ID laws. The report found that voter ID laws have nothing to do with voter fraud and everything to do with lowering election turnout.
According to a statement from the office of Sen. Sanders,
The Government Accountability Office report also found scant evidence of voter fraud that the new laws that ostensibly are designed to discourage.
The report was requested by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). The senators asked the research arm of Congress to investigate what they called an “alarming number” of new state laws that make it “significantly harder” for millions of voters to cast ballots.
The report calculated the direct cost to would-be voters in the 17 states where voters must present a drivers’ license or other state identification at polling places. The price for drivers’ licenses ranges from $14.50 in Indiana to $58.50 in Rhode Island. The cost of getting a birth certificate needed to obtain a non-driver ID ranges from $7 in North Dakota to $25 in Georgia.
Focusing on two states with strict ID laws, Kansas and Tennessee, the GAO found greater falloffs in voter turnout in those states than in states without restrictive voting laws. The 2012 general election turnout compared to 2008 was as much as 3.2 percent less in Kansas and 2.2 percent less in Tennessee than in other states. The falloff was greatest among African-Americans, young people and newly-registered voters, the GAO said.
Sanders said, “We must make it easier, not harder, for poor and working people to vote and to participate in the political process. These state laws aren’t really intended to discourage fraud, they’re intended to discourage voting. The GAO looked at study after study and found no credible evidence of voter fraud having had any impact whatsoever on the outcome of any election in recent history.”
The only thing that voter ID laws accomplish is making it more difficult for people who are likely support Democrats to vote. The GAO found that voter ID laws in the states that were studied caused turnout to drop 2-3 points. In close elections, like the current midterms, those few points can make the difference between defeat and victory for Democrats.
The study confirms that the voter fraud threat is a smokescreen that is being used by Republicans to depress turnout and keep people from voting. Sen. Sanders deserves a great deal of the credit for this report. Sanders initiated the request for the GAO to do the study.
It might seem obvious that that voter suppression is the purpose of voter ID laws, but having data to support the claims makes all the difference between having facts versus a political debate about beliefs. The facts are on the side of those who understand the real intent of voter ID laws.
Voter fraud is code for keeping Democrats away from the polls. Republicans can only win elections if the electorate is smaller, older, white, and conservative. The GOP can’t win on ideas, so they are trying to rig the game. The GAO report is significant because it gives voting advocates ammo to use in their attempts to level the playing field.
Bernie Sanders has demonstrated once again that he is the Koch fueled Republican Party’s worst nightmare.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association