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Voting Rights

Where’s the Voter Fraud? PDF  | Print |  Email
By Tova Andrea Wang, The Century Foundation   
December 07, 2006
This article was posted at The Century Foundation website and is reposted here with permission of the author.

Over the past month, the silence has been deafening.

For the past few years, many on the Right have been vociferously propagating the myth that voter fraud at the polling place is a rampant problem of crisis proportions. But we haven’t heard from them lately. In fact, as far as my research can discover (Nexis and Google news searches of multiple relevant terms), there has not been one confirmed report of any of these types of incidents in the 2006 election. Not one. Even the Republican National Committee’s vote fraud watch operation in their list of complaints from the 2006 election could not come up with one such case.

If you’ve been listening to the likes of John Fund, Thor Hearne, Ken Mehlman, and John Lott, you would think non-citizens are lining up to vote at the polls, mischievous partisans are voting multiple times by impersonating other voters, and dead people are voting in polling places across the country. In order to justify their argument that we need all voters to present government issued photo identification at the polls, they claim that this type of fraud is the biggest problem our electoral system confronts. They have been building and building this argument, hammering and hammering away at it to the point that it has now become the prevailing belief of the American public.
Voter Confusion PDF  | Print |  Email
By Tova Andrea Wang, The Century Foundation   
October 28, 2006

This article was posted at The Century Foundation website. It is reposted with permission of the author.


All over the country this November, new voting laws will be in effect that will make an already highly combustible election all the more complicated. None is more troubling than the raft of unnecessary and disenfranchising voter identification laws. In two states the strictest of these types of laws have been held unconstitutional and barred from implementation, but throughout the country the damage is likely already done. In many states that are critical to the upcoming election, there is tremendous confusion over the new voting procedures. This confusion over a state’s voter identification requirements may lead to voters being asked for forms of identification they are not required to have, longer lines, more provisional ballots that must be evaluated and counted after the election, and voters avoiding the polls because they think they do not have the proper identification to vote when in fact they do.


Incredibly, the Supreme Court, of all bodies, has just made that confusion worse in the state of Arizona. Arizona has a new rule that requires voters to prove citizenship when registering to vote and to present either photo identification or two forms of approved non-photo identification in order to vote. After a series of court battles over this new law in which the rule was initially upheld, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an emergency injunction against implementation of the new law. Quite suddenly, last Friday the Supreme Court undid this ruling on mostly procedural grounds, and ordered the state to in fact proceed with this very dangerous new rule. As election lawyer Robert Bauer has astutely pointed out, when bona fide challenges are made to a law that clearly places restrictions on the franchise, “there is no good cause for leaving it in place until final adjudication. This is not the place for deference to legislative authority.” So just as elections officials, poll workers, and voters were preparing to go forward with the election under the rules Arizona had always followed for years prior to this new restriction on the right to vote (except for a low turnout September primary), the Supreme Court, in the name of avoiding voter confusion, two weeks before the election turned everything upside down again. Will we be surprised if voters and poll workers are totally unclear about what they have to do to gain access to the polls?

The United States Supreme Court at the Polls, in Arizona: The More Things Change… PDF  | Print |  Email
By Bob Bauer   
October 21, 2006

The Supreme Court of the United states ruled unanimously yesterday that Arizona may enforce Proposition 200, which requires voters to show a photo identification card at the polls on Election Day this year, despite a pending lawsuit by opponents who say the measure will disenfranchise the poor, minorities and the elderly.


Download the Supreme Court Opinion 


See also Analysis at 


This article appeared on Bob Bauer's Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author. 


It might have been thought—devoutly hoped—that the Supreme Court would measure its steps carefully without striding once again in the territory of Bush v. Gore.  But this was not to be: this urge to intervene in the electoral controversies of the day seems ingrained in its very constitution (in a manner of speaking).

Yesterday’s decision in Purcell v. Gonzalez  shows that the Court can be severely faulted on one of two grounds: 1) it is careless with the very appearance of its interventions, rendering decisions of political moment while lost in the weeds of intra-court politics; or 2) it knows precisely what it is doing.  In any event, in the middle of the struggle over enfranchisement mislabeled as a debate over fraud, the Court chose sides, advancing the prospects of one side of the conflict.  It did so with an insouciance that was fairly astonishing, assuring readers that it was withholding judgment on the merits and merely tending to proper order.

Of course, the Justices had their reasons. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had enjoined the Arizona voter ID in flat but unexplained disagreement with a District Court. But the District had yet, as the Supreme Court concedes, to make findings of fact. The schedule for ultimate disposition might have been somewhat messy, but election law litigation does not travel the most orderly of paths, and the Ninth Circuit Order froze in place, putting off final adjudication to another day, restrictions on the franchise.

Blocking the 2006 Vote PDF  | Print |  Email
By Tova Andrea Wang, The Century Foundation   
October 17, 2006

This article appeared on It is reposted here with permission of the author.


While much attention is appropriately being paid to the problems with electronic voting machines, we must also focus on the many other ways voters were disenfranchised in 2004 and could be again in 2006. In the midst of talk about paper trails and frozen computer screens, have we all forgotten the registration problems, the intimidation tactics, the tossed provisional ballots and the unacceptably long lines that led to so many disenfranchised voters in 2004? If so, we had better remember, because recent analysis shows the states have not done enough to make sure such problems don’t rear their ugly heads again during the 2006 and 2008 elections.


In 2000 and 2004, snafus in the voter registration process led to millions of voters being unable to cast ballots. In America, obstacles exist even for citizens trying to register to vote that are a continual factor in low voter turn-out rates. First, unlike most other countries, the onus is on the citizen, rather than the government, to figure how and where to register. Many in poorer and less-educated communities will not get the information they need to register and register properly. Election administrators may make mistakes in the collection and input of a voter’s information, leading to the rejection of that voter’s registration application or the failure of that voter’s name to appear on the right poll book in the right polling location. With many states having registration deadlines up to 30  days out from the Election Day, many would-be voters will register too late, especially in our society where people move frequently and must re-register every time they do so.

New Voter ID Laws Could Cost Millions Their Right To Vote, According to New Briefing Paper PDF  | Print |  Email
By Timothy Rusch, Demos   
October 17, 2006

Recent Court Decisions Find Impact Too Great, Laws Not Based in Fact

The Challenges to Fair Elections Series, published between October 16 and Nov 1, are available for download at here.


Millions of eligible voters could lose their right to vote in coming years if new state and national photo identification and proof of citizenship requirements for voting are implemented, according to a new briefing paper published by Demos, a national public policy and research center. The paper, part of Demos' 2006 Challenges to Fair Elections Series, offers evidence that new and prospective voter ID requirements, in states and on the national level, have been advanced without adequate consideration of facts or the potential impact on voting rights.


In recent years, states such as Georgia, Missouri and Indiana have enacted highly restrictive identification requirements for voting, and Arizona passed a statewide referendum that would require stringent ID and citizenship requirements at the polls. All of these laws have undergone recent challenges in court, and three--those in MO, GA, and AZ--have been legally enjoined and prevented from being enacted this year. Indiana's remains, and national debate, and further challenges to the court rulings in these states, will continue.


"New photo ID requirements for voting are being challenged in court because the evidence shows they have the potential to prevent millions of eligible US citizens from voting," said Miles Rapoport (pictured above), President of Demos. "The courts know, and the facts show, that misleading arguments and distorted facts about "voter fraud" have been used to advance ID legislation. Research proves that strict photo ID requirements for voting solve none of the real problems of elections in the United States, and will actually prevent far too many eligible voters from exercising their responsibility to vote."

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