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Walsh Supports Federal Voter ID Law

By aaroncynic in News on Mar 26, 2012 8:40PM


Republican congressman Joe Walsh declared his support for a federal voter ID mandate at a town hall meeting in Palatine last month, Think Progress reports. Such a bill would require voters provide “proof of citizenship” before going to the polls. Walsh told the crowd:

This just seems really obvious to me. Federal law says only U.S. citizens can vote in federal elections. We typically make this a state-by-state issue, but I don’t know why we don’t enforce that at the federal level. I don’t know why we don’t mandate at the federal level that you have to show proof of citizenship to vote.

While there are proponents of the bill who claim that tens of thousands of people could be voting illegally, there is little evidence to back up such allegations. A study by the Brennan Center for Justice found many times, when allegations are investigated thoroughly, actual voter fraud hasn’t occurred. Flawed lists, clerical error and typos are often mistaken for voter fraud. In the 2000 election in Georgia, for example, more than 5,000 votes were alleged to have been cast by the deceased. A follow up report substantiated that only one of those instances was valid, and that report was later disproven when the name Alan J. Mandel was confused with the name Alan J. Mandell. In New York in 2002, journalists followed up on seven cases of deceased voters alleged of voting, but found clerical errors were to blame.

If anything, such a law would actually negatively impact voting. The Brennan Center estimated that seven percent of citizens in Alabama (240,000) would be disqualified from voting because they do not possess proof of citizenship. The Center estimated at least 15 million Americans nationwide could be disenfranchised if such a law were passed.

Earlier this month, a Wisconsin judge declared a voter identification law unconstitutional. The Huffington Post reports Circuit Judge Richard Niess wrote:

"The legislature and governor may certainly take aggressive action to prevent its occurrence. But voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression. Indeed, they are two heads on the monster."