Ever since voter ID laws became the latest craze with Republican voters, there has been a steady trickle of prominent Republican politicians who have let slip the real (and obvious) reason for voter ID laws: To allow Republicans to win seats that they normally wouldn’t be able to win.
First it was Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai claiming that voter ID laws will provide a path to victory in the state for Mitt Romney. Now it’s two Florida Republicans. Former Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer says that it’s state voter ID law was specifically meant to suppress Black and Latino turnout and former governor Charlie Crist echoed that voter ID only suppresses voter turnout though he doesn’t specify that it is targeted mainly at minorities.
We’ll leave aside the implicit racism of voter ID laws for now because all you get from that is a chorus of “I’m not racist! Some of my best friends are of an oppressed minority!” I will say this, though: If you consistently favor laws that happen to disproportionately disfavor minorities, you need to do some deep introspection because you both walk like a duck and talk like a duck so you shouldn’t get upset if people mistake you for a duck.
On the almost certain chance that you don’t think you’re racist and that in-person voter fraud is totally a thing and that it decides elections, I say learn statistics. It is statistically impossible to win an election by in-person voter fraud. Please note that “statistically impossible” doesn’t mean impossible, it just means that an improbable series of events would have to occur in order for in-person voter fraud to decide the election.
First, the election would have to be close. Unless you are off-the-wall crazy and believe that organized in-person voter fraud is capable of producing more than a handful of votes here and a handful of votes there, you have to conclude that, right off the bat, 95-99% of all election decisions in any given year simply cannot be decided by in-person voter fraud.
Second, if the election is close, there is a far greater chance that the election will be decided by a counting error. Neither machines nor people can count ballots with 100% accuracy. Statistical models show that final tallies normally have a margin of error of between 1.8% and 2.0%. That’s right, a close election that, by law, calls for a recount would be much better served by a flip of the coin than by a recount and would also save tax payers tons of money.
Third, “but what about the smaller local elections”, you ask? Yes, the smaller the election, the greater the chance of fraud, but that fraud isn’t going to come from in-person fraud, it’s going to come from collusion. You see, the smaller the election, the harder it would be to commit in-person voter fraud because it becomes much more likely you are going to be identified by poll workers as a stranger in a town where everyone knows each other. So the only way to safely get away with it is to collude with the poll workers and voter ID laws aren’t going to stop that.
Voter ID laws are and always have been about voter suppression. At best, they solve a non-existent problem. At worst, they’re reminiscent of the Jim Crow era poll taxes. Please stop supporting them.