By Louis Avallone
It is often said that, “Life is a fight for territory. When you stop fighting for what you want, what you don’t want automatically takes over.” This could be the individual who walks around the block each day to improve their health, or the employee who routinely seeks out learning new skills to advance them in their profession, or the volunteer who contributes their time and talents to support a worthy cause they believe in.
Or it could be our American democracy that, in the words of Ronald Reagan, “must be fought for, protected, and handed on” to our children for them to do the same. While it has been said that the greatest threat to the constitutional right to vote is voter fraud, the Democrats in Washington are seemingly unconcerned these days, and are willing to surrender growing perceptions of voter fraud in exchange for increased voter support.
Take former Secretary of State, First Lady, and presumed Democrat nominee for President in 2016, Hilary Clinton, for example. She recently took issue with the more than 80 bills introduced in 31 states requiring photo I.D. for voting, claiming that such was a burdensome requirement and would disenfranchise millions of voters. She said, “Anyone that says that racial discrimination is no longer a problem in American elections must not be paying attention.”
But is she paying attention to the facts, or the polls? More than 30 states have passed laws in recent years requiring voters to display photo I.D., yet in 2012, black voters clearly turned out higher percentages of registered voters than other ethnic minorities, and they appeared to have voted in greater percentages than white voters, as well. In Indiana, for example, where voter I.D. laws are considered the strictest, Democrat turnout increased by over 8 percent – which was the largest increase in the nation.
And even in powerful swing states with voter I.D. laws like Ohio and Pennsylvania, black voters accounted for 13 percent of all votes cast in 2012, even though they only make-up 12% of the eligible votes – a repeat of the 2008 presidential election. So, when President Obama calls such laws to ensure voting integrity as a “setback” for minority voters, we really must wonder, are Democrats more interested in the polls, or the facts?
Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens was interested in the facts when he wrote the majority opinion upholding Indiana’s voter identification law, explaining that flagrant examples of fraud have been documented throughout our nation’s history and that “not only is the risk of voter fraud real, but that it could affect the outcome of a close election.”
The bottom line is that the perception of voter fraud drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and sows seeds of distrust in our government. When citizens believe their legitimate votes will be outweighed by fraudulent ones, we all become disenfranchised.
In fact, 66% of likely U.S. voters believe voter fraud is a serious problem in America today. Critics (more specifically, Democrats) say that voter identification laws disenfranchise the poor, claiming that some people who are poor have never obtained a photo I.D. because they don’t have a copy of their birth certificate, or because it would be expensive to obtain. They claim that people of limited means don’t have a photo I.D. because, in their neighborhoods, everyone knows one another.
However, I know of no predestination for people who are poor to also belong to families lacking the organizational skills of keeping up with important papers, such as birth certificates, or aspiring to obtain a driver’s license, regardless of whether one has the means to purchase a vehicle or not. And such socio-economic status is not a factor in the poor obtaining the photo identification needed for everything from pharmacies to banks to even visiting your child’s or grandchild’s school.
These are mere excuses, of course, because the facts simply don’t bear out any connection between voter I.D. laws and disenfranchisement of minority voters. Yes, we can debate the extent of voter fraud until the cows come home, and admittedly, the lack of routinely collected and published data from public agencies makes it difficult to study voter fraud.
But while Democrats want to read off of the same old, tired, racially divisive, political stump script, the Supreme Court made it clear, just this past June, that the country has fundamentally changed since the racially motivated laws of the civil rights era, and that federal government’s evaluation of state voting laws can no longer rely on the past “when today’s statistics tell an entirely different story.”
Yes, this is a fight for territory – a fight for the integrity of voting – so that tyranny does not automatically take over. It’s not about the love of party, nor the distraction du-jour of the mainstream media, or the presidential aspirations of Hilary Clinton. It’s about the love of democratic principles, and the expectation that voting must be free from the perception of corruption – plain and simple, so that when we vote, we might never forget, in the words of Samuel Adams, that we have just exercised “one of the most solemn trusts in human society” for which we are accountable to both God and country.