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Editorials

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Voter ID laws are more successful at preventing qualified people from voting than at stopping voter fraud.

The fraud of forced voter ID

As more states adopt strict laws requiring voters to present state-issued identification cards before casting ballots on Election Day, it is becoming more clear that such laws fall heavily on the elderly, poor and minorities, who have more difficulty producing a birth certificate – and who, not coincidentally, tend to vote Democratic.

Nor is it a coincidence that one of the main backers of such laws is the decidedly conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.

An Associated Press review of votes in Indiana and Georgia in 2008 found that more than 1,200 votes were rejected because the voter lacked ID. At the same time, a Republican study meant to document the supposed need for such laws identified 400 voter prosecution cases across the nation in 10 years – fewer than one per state per year. And many of those did not involve someone impersonating someone else – the only type of voter fraud the ID laws can prevent.

Conservatives talk of the ease of getting a state ID. Tell that to a woman who moved to Fort Wayne from Alabama 60 years ago, and whose only record of birth might be a notation in a Bible. And why is a gun permit considered valid ID in Texas while a college ID isn’t?

At a time when Americans bemoan poor-turnout elections, lawmakers are making it harder for people to vote. Evidence shows that these laws do a much better job of rejecting valid votes than detecting fraud. Voter ID laws should be repealed.

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