Politicians and activists were making sweeping accusations about voter fraud during the 2008 election season, warning that thousands of illegitimate registrations had been submitted and that election theft was immiment. Is the registration system vulnerable to fraud? How can it be improved? Tova Wang, a nationally recognized expert on election reform and vice president for research at Common Cause, a citizens’ lobbying group, answers questions about the voter registration controversies of 2008 and discusses proposals for improving the voting process.
In Wisconsin, voter fraud is rampant—or so thought U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic, who began a hunt for fraudulent voters after John Kerry won Wisconsin by just 11,000 votes over George W. Bush in 2004. But by the time he completed his work, Biskupic reported that he had uncovered only 14 illegal votes—and no conspiracy.Lawmakers in many states are saying that there's only one way to stop this epidemic of fraud: have every voter show a state-issued photo ID at the polls. But experts on elections say that voter fraud of the kind that can be countered by ID requirements is rare; what’s more, requiring photo IDs would disenfranchise millions of voters.
The Justice Department has made stamping out fraud by individual voters a priority. Since the 2002 launch of its Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative, 86 individuals had been convicted of ballot fraud, the department boasted in a press release last year. Federal prosecutor David Iglesias of New Mexico, one of the eight U.S.
Forty-some years ago, chances were you knew it if you were being denied the right to vote. Perhaps, like Mississippi civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer, you climbed those courthouse steps, taking your life and livelihood in your hands, then failed to interpret the Constitution to the registrar’s satisfaction.
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