Voter ID Laws Might Lead Groups To Challenge Romney Win
By Betsy McCaughey
If Mitt Romney ekes out an Electoral College with razor-thin majorities in one or more states, expect civil rights groups to challenge the outcome in court, claiming that new anti-fraud voting laws hurt minority voters. This could plunge the nation into weeks of uncertainty, like Bush v. Gore all over again.
Since the 2010 elections, 17 states have enacted laws requiring photo ID to vote, overseeing how advocacy groups conduct registration drives, limiting early voting and purging felons and noncitizens from registration lists.
But the Justice Department – in alliance with the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, the Brennan Center for Justice and other groups that oppose anti-fraud laws – has resisted.
If the presidential election is close, Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Project at the Brennan Center, predicts an explosion of lawsuits claiming the outcome was tainted by partisan voter reform laws.
In truth, there’s nothing partisan about them. They’re designed to protect your vote, regardless of your politics, from being diluted by illegal voters. In 2005, the Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former President Carter, a Democrat, and former Secretary of State James Baker, a Republican, urged the nation to correct sloppy voter registration and election standards. A key recommendation was a photo ID requirement.
Though only U.S. citizens have the right to vote, states register anyone who signs up for a driver’s license. The result? Plenty of non-citizen voters. Colorado’s secretary of state testified to Congress that 12,000 noncitizens had registered and 5,000 actually voted in 2010. That could determine an election.
The Carter-Baker commission urged states to issue “real ID” driver’s licenses that confirm citizenship, while ensuring that indigents and non-drivers could get them too. Real ID, the report said, would also keep cheaters from using dead persons’ names or other fake identities to vote.
Requiring photo ID was ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court in 2008, and is supported by 82% of voters, according to an August Rasmussen poll. But President Obama opposes it, and his Justice Department has done everything possible to delay the impact of voter reform until after the presidential election.
A suit between the Justice Department and South Carolina dragged on until Oct. 19, 2012 when the court ruled the South Carolina voter ID law consistent with the Constitution and civil rights laws. Alas, the judges said it was too late for the presidential election, and implementation would have to wait until 2013. So South Carolinians will have to put up with voter fraud again as they vote for president.
Worse, anti-reform groups requested that an international monitoring group based in Warsaw, Poland, The OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), to weigh in against reform. The NAACP requested that OSCE send monitors to states where voter ID laws and early voting restrictions are issues. Even more alarming, the Justice Department is going along with this.
The U.S. (an OSCE member) has customarily allowed our elections to be monitored, in the spirit of “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” But this year is different. OSCE is taking sides. In advance of the election, it has issued two reports criticizing photo ID requirements, urging that felons be allowed to vote.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott responded with fitting outrage. The OSCE’s views are “irrelevant,” he said. The people of each state have the right to pass laws “that preclude felons from voting, prevent groups like Project Vote… from questionable voter registration activities, and instill confidence in the electoral process by requiring voters to present a photo identification.”
Any OSCE observer meddling in the Texas election will be arrested.
McCaughey is former lieutenant governor of New York.