The idea behind Voter ID legislation is based on a foundation of common sense. Simply put, people in Mississippi need photo identification to cash a check, board a plane or apply for food stamps, in addition to countless other activities of life. It therefore goes without saying that the showing of photo identification should also be required for those wishing to vote.
Upon entering the realm of politics, one of the first and most recurrent jokes one experiences is an old saying, “Vote early and often.” There is something baleful about that statement. Each time an election rolls around, people can be heard, in jest, sharing the old adage with friends and neighbors. Most snicker at such joviality, knowing they would never partake in illegality, but realizing nonetheless that our nation faces a problem as old as the ballot box itself â€“ electoral fraud.
For example, the 2004 gubernatorial race in Washington State was filled with irregularities. After the election was held and subsequently contested, a Washington State Superior Court found that 1,400 felons voted illegally, along with the votes of fifty-three dead people and two non-citizens. There were also twenty-seven double votes. Moreover, there has been evidence presented of dead people voting and helping to elect Ophelia Ford to the Tennessee state senate, and in another 2004 election, investigators in Milwaukee established that 4,500 more ballots were cast in excess of the number of voters who actually showed up to the polls, including 100 voters using fake names. In his book, “Turning Point,” former President Jimmy Carter discussed his race for Georgia State Senate in 1962, which involved a corrupt local sheriff who had cast votes for the dead. Court intervention was necessary before Carter was finally declared the winner.
Like most states, Mississippi has not proven itself immune from voter fraud. Hans A. von Spakovsky, a writer for the Heritage Foundation, has written extensively about a United States Department of Justice voting rights lawsuit in Noxubee County against a defendant named Ike Brown. It was alleged that Brown, a convicted felon and head of the local Democratic Party, set up a political machine that worked to guarantee the election of his approved candidates to local office. According to von Spakovsky, a major contention in the litigation against Brown was that “the local election board’s failure to purge the voter registration roll to eliminate persons who have moved or died and who are thus no longer eligible voters increased the opportunity for voter fraud by creating the potential for persons to vote under others’ names.” As evidence of misconduct, he cites testimony from a former deputy sheriff who said that he “saw Ike Brown outside the door of the precinct talking to a young black lady and heard him tell her to go in there and vote, to use any name, and that no one was going to say anything.”
The above examples are illustrative of a larger problem. Without the mechanisms in place to verify voter identity and to confirm voter fraud, there are numerous abuses each year that are not documented. Considering our nation’s long history of voter anomalies, it is a violation of common sense and logical analysis to claim that electoral fraud does not occur.