May 13, 2008

"The Myth of Voter Fraud"

The NY Times offers this editorial, which begins: "Missouri and at least 19 other states are considering passing laws that would force people to prove their citizenship before they can vote. These bills are not a sincere effort to prevent noncitizens from voting; that is a made-up problem. The real aim is to reduce turnout by eligible voters. Republicans seem to think that laws of this kind will help them win elections, but burdensome rules like these -- and others cropping up around the country -- pose a serious threat to democracy and should be stopped."

I have not focused much on the noncitizen issue and initial voter registration (as opposed to the voter impersonation problem allegedly targeted by requiring voter id at the polls). But my sense is that there is more of a real problem with the former than the latter. This is not necessarily a problem caused by intentional fraud as much as by lack of knowledge of non-citizens who mistakenly register and lack of independent verification of citizenship by elections officials. I hope to write more about this in coming days, as I go back to look at the evidence on this score. That's not to say that the Missouri law is necessarily a good one; only that non-citizen voting is not a wholly made up problem the way voter impersonation is. I look forward to hearing from others about the evidence on this question.

Posted by Rick Hasen at May 13, 2008 05:48 AM