A federal judge has overturned Wisconsin’s photo ID to vote law and did so in the strongest possible terms, pointing out that fear of voter fraud is vastly exaggerated because voter impersonation is virtually non-existent. Indeed, the state government could not identify a single case.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman found not just that the law disproportionately deters minorities and low-income individuals from voting; but also that purported instances of voter impersonation are so infrequent, if they exist at all, that “no rational person could be worried about it.”
He points out that Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) lawyers could not identify a single instance of known voter impersonation in Wisconsin’s recent past, even though that is the primary justification for the requirement that voters show photo identification. He also found that 9 percent of registered voters lack the sort of qualifying ID required under state law — enough to change the outcome of the election, particularly because many of those same individuals who lack an ID also lack the birth certificate necessary to obtain an ID.
“[T]he photo ID requirement results in the denial or abridgment of the right to vote on account of race or color” in violation of the Voting Rights Act, Adelman concluded. While Adelman’s ruling focuses on the Voting Rights Act, a state ruling also found that a voter ID law would overrule 132 years of Wisconsin precedent.
Wisconsin is one of the many states in recent years where Republicans have called press conferences to announce terrible-sounding numbers of potential voter fraud cases. In Milwaukee, for example, they claimed there were tens of thousands of “discrepancies” in the vote a few years ago. But they came up with that number by comparing the voter rolls to another state database and counting any difference at all between the two lists as a potential case of voter fraud.
In fact, not a single one of them turned out to be. What they were is just mundane differences — missing apartment numbers, transposed house addresses or name spellings, a missing “jr” or “sr” on the end. They announce the scary-sounding initial number with great fanfare, then ignore it when it turns out to be total bullshit.