Monday, August 27, 2012

Catching the Frauds

My friend recently posted a picture of his grandmother on FB, a 96-year-old African-American living in Kansas, where they now require a photo ID to vote.  My friend expressed his heart-felt concern that his grandmother should never again be denied the opportunity to vote.  I felt his pain; I, too, hope she has no problems voting this year.  I hope that whoever there is in her hometown who would assist her in getting to the polls would also assist her in getting to the appropriate office and getting her paperwork together to get a photo ID, if she doesn’t have one.
Honestly, I haven’t followed all the fuss about voter IDs very closely.  On the surface, I can’t see how there could be an issue with people being required to prove that they are who they say they are before they are allowed to vote.  Apparently, there are people for whom this will be an inconvenience.  Apparently, I’m ignorant enough to not understand the dramatic extent of this inconvenience.  But if there are legitimate reasons for such concern, I would be all in favor of legislators and concerned citizens doing the work to figure out how to make it easier for folks.  I still think it is perfectly legitimate to expect people to be able to prove that they are who they say they are before they are allowed to vote.
However, right now I want to address the most prevalent argument I’m hearing these days against the voter ID laws: that voter fraud is not a big enough problem to warrant making things so difficult for people to vote (again – so difficult?  Really?  But I digress . . . ).  Here’s the argument: the number of people successfully prosecuted for voter fraud is miniscule – like, in the hundredths of a percent of all voters.  Obviously, voter fraud is not a problem.
Tell me what I’m missing here, folks.
Seriously -- I really don't get it.  What those statistics prove is that the current situation is catching a very small number of fraudulent voters – they do not in any way prove that there are no other fraudulent voters out there who are not being caught by the current laws who might be caught if different laws were put into effect.  In fact, one could use those statistics to argue that the current laws are completely ineffective in catching fraudulent voters.  Because I have a hard time believing there are that few people in our country trying to cheat at the polls – and I have a hard time believing that anyone else would believe that either.
Now hear me – I’m not saying photo ID laws are the answer to any problem or even that there is or isn’t any problem . . . as I said, I’m not informed on this issue.  I’m just saying that this particular argument everyone is dancing around about seems to hold no water of any kind.  Seriously – tell me what I’m missing here.
My liberal friends seem to be asking me to believe that in this nation full of sinners, in the midst of a very contentious and divisive period of our history, we have no more than a miniscule number of people trying to cheat at the voting box, and our current system is catching them.  Whereas the other side is saying, the current laws are only catching a miniscule number and it stands to reason that there is vast number of people getting away with it.
I find the latter argument to be more believable.

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