It was Dwight Eisenhower that said "The future of the republic is in the hands of the American voter." The notion is that our republic, a system of electing people in our likeness to do our bidding, is built almost entirely upon what happens at the ballot box. If true, it follows that voting should be a right protected by careful and prudent measures. Protecting our right to vote involves more than just voting freely, but voting legally.
A few weeks ago, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen launched a task force to battle against voter fraud across the state. The issue resurrected a sharp partisan dispute between liberals and conservatives with low-income earners caught in the middle.
One source cited that nearly 6% of all people in the U.S. have no form of photo ID most of which are poor. The question then arises, would purchasing an id cause a problem for the poor? Answer: not if they take voting as seriously as buying, say, a case of beer.
In my line of work, I've been to a lot of poverty-stricken homes. I have yet to find someone so poor that they couldn't get their hands on a case of beer. If you can buy a case of beer, you can afford a photo ID. More to the point, the Indiana Supreme Court ruling stated that voter ID law didn't impose any substantive obstacles for the poor. In fact, in the five years since the law had passed, not a single person, poor or otherwise, has come forth claiming to be disenfranchised.
To the liberal mind, incidents of voter fraud are largely inconsequential. The numbers are just too small to notice. But some would argue they are small because we currently have no system in place to apprehend those who vote fraudulently.
In the 2004 election, the Milwaukee Police Department found that Milwaukee residents cast more ballots than the number of actual residents living in Milwaukee. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) discovered that some absentee ballots were cast by non-residents, some by out-of-state college students, and some by felons.
SIU concluded that on-site registration and voting without identification provided no deterrent to "double voting." They said that "Michael A. Smith" could vote as Michael Smith, Mickey Smith, and M.A. Smith leading to three resultant votes. And if they were challenged, it would take too long to investigate allowing those votes to be recorded.
Back in 200o, Jim Witkowiak lost an election for an Alderman seat to Angel Sanchez by a mere 17 votes. At the time, Witkowiak discovered that nearly 200 people who registered to vote didn't exist. Witkowiak ran again in 2008 winning the election. This time, however, he sent out literature to the registered voters planning to introduce himself. To his surprise, 80 of the 400 postcards he mailed out came back undeliverable; 75 of them didn't exist.
Recently, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has charged 5 Wisconsin residents with criminal counts of voter fraud from the presidential election of 2008. Two of them worked for ACORN registering themselves to vote multiple times.
Those who think that voter fraud is inconsequential point to the few cases on the books where voter fraud has been prosecuted. However, few cases emerge because there is no regulatory system in place to deter or apprehend fraudulent voters. For this reason, Van Hollen has organized a voter task force to protect one of the more sacred rights of a functioning democracy.
Clearly, in localized elections where turnout rates typically number in the hundreds, 17 votes can make a difference. If voter fraud is inconsequential, then all that is lost by building a task force is an unnecessary task force. But if voter fraud significant, then a task force will protect what President Eisenhower called the future of our republic.