With elections drawing near, we’re starting to see another round of stories about how difficult it is to obtain a photo ID and how many millions of Americans are disenfranchised by not having one.
National Public Radio stepped up this week with “For Older Voters, Getting the Right ID Can Be Especially Tough” by Ian Jaffe.
Jaffe went to a small town in Georgia where he found Pamela Moon, 53, trying to get a replacement for an ID she lost. Moon was at the Sweetwater Mission in Austell, Ga., and a volunteer with Spread the Vote, who visits the mission weekly “so that people who come for food and clothes can get help obtaining a Georgia ID at the same time,” was there to help.
Moon never had a driver’s license because, she said, she’s never been able to afford a car. She needs a birth certificate to get the ID, and she has no idea where that is either, but the volunteer in the story tells her, “We will help you get that. We will pay for it.”
This, NPR wrote, is “a relief for Moon. In Georgia, the cost of a birth certificate and a photo ID is $57, and she lives mostly off her disability benefits. In fact, studies show that most people who lack official state IDs are low income and they have more urgent concerns than just voting.”
But why, the reporter wonders.
“Advocates for voter ID laws argue that showing identification at the polls reduces the incidence of voter fraud, although studies have repeatedly shown that in-person voter fraud is extremely rare.”
If you measure the number of voters involved in in-person voting fraud, it is not a large percentage of even the voting population at large. The Heritage Foundation says 1,088 instances of voter fraud have been proven and 949 criminal convictions obtained over the last two election cycles.
But Kris Kobach, former secretary of state of Kansas and head of Trump’s voter fraud task force in 2017, says such statistics are misleading. “The relevant question is” Does the number of illegal votes exceed the margin of victory in a particular race?” he wrote in a Washington Post piece in 2011. All too often, the answer is yes.”
He cited a case in Kansas City, Mo., in which a candidate won by one vote but later was found to have coached 50 Somali citizens who were not eligible to vote to cast their ballots for him. In another, a study in Minnesota found 341 felons just from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area voted illegally in the 2008 election. Not a big number until one considers Democrat Al Franken beat Republican Norm Coleman by 312 votes.
The NPR story also noted a figure from the Brennan Center, which fights voter ID laws, that reported that 7 percent of Americans are disenfranchised by such laws. Kovach’s piece said there were more photo IDs issued in Kansas than there were registered voters. Don Palmer, former secretary of state for Florida writing for the Daily Signal, stated that in a recent case in Indiana, it was found that fewer than 1 percent of residents lacked a photo ID suitable for voting.
The NPR piece even claimed some people in their 50s never even had birth certificates issued, so they can’t prove their identity. Besides, it’s hard for older voters to make the effort to obtain an ID.
“Most of them don’t drive anymore,” one volunteer told Jaffe. “So taking four buses to go downtown so that they can get their picture ID, these require funds. They don’t have them.”
It then points out that volunteers often drive these people to the offices they need to visit.
The mainstream media presses this point every election. They “use widely inflated in an attempt both to portray these laws as burdensome and to gain partisan advantage,” Palmer wrote. Americans “deserve to hear the truth … not inflammatory and inaccurate assertions that hundreds of thousands or millions of voters are going to be negatively affected by such laws,” Palmer wrote.