What Fresh Hell Is This?

December 23, 2013

The Trib HEARTS The Constitution of South Africa

Take a look. This is in today's Tribune-Review: :
To “progressives” who insist that any push for voter identification is a subterfuge to disenfranchise the poor, minorities and the elderly, we present a staunch proponent for IDs, whose support should be clear even to them:

Nelson Mandela.

That's right. The late South African president championed voter ID at a rally in 1998 as the African National Congress conducted its re-election. Fists clenched and enthusiastic, Mr. Mandela is shown wearing a T-shirt that proclaims “Get an ID. Register. Vote.” in a picture posted by The Daily Caller.
Here's the Daily Caller piece.  It foils South African voter ID with the federal case challenging the Voter ID law in Wisconsin.  I can't imagine, however, a more apples and oranges debate than Wisconsin now and South Africa a five years, or so, after apartheid.  How many disenfranchised South Africans had any sort of South African ID?  Imagine the paperwork necessary to get things in order in post-Apartheid South Africa.  I would imagine that's what Mandela's t-shirt was trying to accomplish.  And I'd also imagine that that's a bit different from whatever's going on in Wisconsin.

And what IS going on in Wisconsin anyway?  Voter-ID wise?

Take a look:
A professor who studied voter fraud in Wisconsin and around the country testified Thursday that it is "exceedingly rare," and that requiring voters to show a photo ID might have prevented just one of the few dozen cases prosecuted in the state over the last decade.

Lorraine Minnite, author of "The Myth of Voter Fraud," was presented as an expert witness by plaintiffs in a the federal trial challenging Wisconsin's voter ID law. She has written numerous scholarly articles on the topic, and testified before Congress and as an expert in other trials.

Minnite, a political scientist at Rutgers University, said she's been studying the incidence of fraud in contemporary American elections since 2001. She said she noticed that every time reforms were introduced that would make voting easier, claims that the changes would increase fraud also arose. She studied Wisconsin early because it was one of six states with same-day registration and might have more cases of fraud.
And so, how much fraud did she actually find?  Not much:
As part of a report she prepared for the trial, Minnite said, she found a total of 31 voter fraud prosecutions in Wisconsin since 2008. She said that amounts to one case for every 283,000 votes cast in the three federal elections during that time span.

Ten of the case didn't really meet her definition, she said, because they involved improperly collected signatures or filing false voter registrations for others, or lying about a felony record to get a job as a voter registration worker.

Of the 21 remaining cases, 12 were felons who voted, three were double voters, four were people who voted in the wrong place and one was a man who obtained and voted an absentee ballot for his dead wife -- a case Minnite conceded may have been prevented if the dead woman wasn't already registered and would have to show photo ID to get the ballot.

She said she found 95 federal indictments of cases related to voter fraud from 2002 to 2005, which included 14 cases from Milwaukee County related to the 2004 presidential election.Of the total, 40 cases involved voters, as opposed to other actors in the election process. Of those, 26 were convicted. None of the cases involved someone impersonating another at the polls.
See?  Not much.

On the other hand, we have some scholarly research suggesting (to put it mildly) that there's something other than "protecting the integrity of the voting process" at work when states (like, say, PENNSYLVANIA) try to implement strict Voter ID laws.  From the abstract:
Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in state legislation likely to reduce access for some voters, including photo identification and proof of citizenship requirements, registration restrictions, absentee ballot voting restrictions, and reductions in early voting. Political operatives often ascribe malicious motives when their opponents either endorse or oppose such legislation. In an effort to bring empirical clarity and epistemological standards to what has been a deeply-charged, partisan, and frequently anecdotal debate, we use multiple specialized regression approaches to examine factors associated with both the proposal and adoption of restrictive voter access legislation from 2006–2011. Our results indicate that proposal and passage are highly partisan, strategic, and racialized affairs. These findings are consistent with a scenario in which the targeted demobilization of minority voters and African Americans is a central driver of recent legislative developments. [Emphasis added.]
Gee, who would've guessed that?

But now that we've established the right's admiration of the South African Constitution, maybe they'll actually get on board with some of it's provisions.  Like this one:
The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth. (Chapt 2, sec. 9, paragraph 3)
 We'll see.

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