This article is a submission from Diane Rufino, June 7, 2012.
I’m writing this article to urge fellow North Carolinians to continue their support of the Voter ID bill (H.R.351) and to oppose any efforts by the Republican leadership in the NC General Assembly to compromise or water down the protections of the bill in any way, shape, or form.
I know opponents of the bill believe or simply buy into the hype that a Voter ID law will somehow disenfranchise certain individuals by denying them the opportunity to vote. Groups like the NAACP charge that if NC passes such a bill, minority voters will be denied the right to vote. They feed racial paranoia that white establishment is always looking for ways to keep the black population suppressed. When the bill was being debated last year, Reverend William Barber of the NAACP addressed a crowd at the “Rally Against the Photo ID Bill” in the NC Legislature on April 13. He told the crowd: ”On April 13, 1963, Reverend Martin Luther King was in a Birmingham jail trying the move the country forward. And now the radical Republicans in this legislature are trying to take us backwards.” And yet there are no instances of blacks being denied the right to vote in North Carolina. Reverend Barber knows full well that the bill is aimed at protecting a process and is not motivated by any racial animus or any intent at all to disenfranchise a single voter. North Carolina is home equally to people of all colors and ethnicities.
The bill is neutral on its face, with proper default provisions included. It’s hard-pressed to see how any voter will honestly be prevented from voting. The only thing the bill really does is prevent someone from voting using another’s identity. Voter fraud and the opportunity for voter fraud destroys the integrity of that system and undermines the confidence of voters in the system which allows them to participate in their government and which ultimately protects their rights and interests.
The real issue is not voter disenfranchisement but voter nullification. Each illegal and fraudulent vote cancels out the vote of a legal one. The overwhelming number of NC citizens conduct themselves everyday according to the law and they expect that politics should play no part in the process to pass good, common-sense laws for the good of decent, law-abiding citizens. Furthermore, we hear people complain that if NC passes such a bill, minority voters will be denied the right to vote. But that’s all remotely hypothetical. As Justice John Paul Stevens noted in the 2008 US Supreme Court decision – Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 171 – which upheld the constitutionality of Indiana’s tough ID law, “requiring a photo ID imposes a minimum burden on voters’ rights, which is justified by state interests.” I would urge the members of the NC General Assembly to note the significance of Justice Stevens’ decision. Stevens was one of the more liberal members of the Court yet he recognized fundamental conservative principles and their relationship to one another. It would seem that liberals and conservatives can, in fact, come together on common ground for important issues affecting the concerns of citizens and political processes, without compromising core principles.
In Crawford, Justice Kennedy reflected on the balance of interests that Voter ID laws touch on: The individual’s right to vote and a state’s legitimate interest in managing elections and ensuring their fairness and integrity. In order for our democratic republic to function and thrive, elections must be free of fraud. Safeguarding election integrity, therefore, is among the primary functions of state government. Kennedy wrote: “[States] have a valid interest in participating in a nationwide effort to improve and modernize election procedures criticized as antiquated and inefficient. [They also have an] interest in preventing voter fraud in response to the problem of voter registration rolls with a large number of names of persons who are either deceased or no longer live in the state. Such fraud has occurred in many parts of the country. Indiana’s own experience with voter fraud in a 2003 mayoral primary demonstrates a real risk that voter fraud could affect a close election’s outcome. There is no question about the legitimacy or importance of a State’s interest in counting only eligible voters’ votes. Finally, [a State's] interest in protecting public confidence in elections, while closely related to its interest in preventing voter fraud, has independent significance, because such confidence encourages citizen participation in the democratic process.” Kennedy then turned to the potential burden to eligible voters who might lack a photo identification card. He noted that Indiana’s law provides for free ID cards to those who can show that they can’t afford them, as well as provides for ‘provisional ballots.’ He wrote that because the state provides free cards, “the inconvenience of going to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, gathering required documents, and posing for a photograph does not qualify as a substantial burden on most voters’ right to vote, or represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting. The severity of the somewhat heavier burden that may be placed on a limited number of persons – e.g., elderly persons born out-of-state, who may have difficulty obtaining a birth certificate – is mitigated by the fact that eligible voters without photo identification may cast provisional ballots that will be counted if they execute the required affidavit at the circuit court clerk’s office. Even assuming that the burden may not be justified as to a few voters, that conclusion is by no means sufficient to establish petitioners’ right to the relief they seek” (which is the invalidation of Voter ID law).
While the case addressed Indiana’s reasons for enacting its Voter ID law, the threat of fraud affecting the outcomes of local elections is very real here in North Carolina. We’ve all seen elections that have been won or lost by a few votes. On November 2, 2010, incumbent Washington County Sheriff James Ross won his race against David Hassell by only 4 votes. There were allegations of voter fraud, with four votes cast in the name of individuals who were deceased, and of voter intimidation, which involved a nursing home in the area for disabled and handicapped persons – the Roanoke Development Center. The Center, as it turned out, was operated by Dr. Zebedee Taylor, the Chairman of the Washington County Democratic Party, and allegations supported by actual testimony showed that residents were intimidated by workers into voting for the democratic ticket (“or you will lose your medical benefits and then what will you do?”). ”The votes cast on behalf of the eleven handicapped voters by unauthorized person or persons did not reflect the expressed choice or the will of the voters.” On February 25, 2011, the State Board of Elections acknowledged that there were sufficient irregularities to taint the results of the election and ordered a new election. There were prosecutions in the event and no convictions. In fact, there wasn’t even any media attention.
Re-do elections cost the state money, erode confidence in the election process, and erode confidence and trust in state officials.
The truth is that when groups sue to block photo ID laws in court, they can’t seem to produce real-world examples of people who have actually been denied the right to vote under such laws.
According to recent opinion polls, 74-75% of Americans – including majorities of Hispanics and African-Americans – support a photo ID requirement for voting. Also significantly, 52-55% of voters who identify themselves as Democrats support the requirement. In North Carolina, 74% of citizens support the Voter ID bill, with 52% of Democrats believing it is necessary.
The fact is that voter fraud exists. Average, well-intentioned voters understand that in this age of groups like ACORN and mass voter fraud, it is simply common sense to require a person to produce an ID at the polls. Average voters understand how easy it is for people to pretend they are someone else and therefore vote illegally and vote multiple times. This is especially so when voters know (or are informed) that voter rolls/voter files are not routinely purged of those residents who have died or moved. We’ve seen in states like Alabama, Missouri, South Dakota, Texas, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Indiana that voter rolls exceed the number of citizens/population (living people) in that state. To reference Haley Joel Osment, the young boy in the Bruce Willis movie “The Sixth Sense”: ”We see Dead People.. everywhere…. and they’re voting!” So why don’t state legislatures or the US Department of Justice see them? A recent study by the Pew Research Center found at least 1.8 million dead people are still registered to vote.
As Brian Williams explained: “Some disturbing news about the state of this nation’s voting system in this upcoming presidential election year. The Pew Research Center says one in eight voter registrations in this nation is inaccurate, a quarter of eligible voters are not registered at all, 1.8 million dead people in this country are indeed still registered to vote. The study says the problems here are not due to fraud, but they stem from disorganized and antiquated systems that could use some help from technology.” But antiquated systems provide the opportunity to commit fraud. Investigative journalism has shown repeatedly just how easy it is to obtain a ballot by giving the name of a dead person who is still on the rolls. The nice thing about dead people is that they don’t complain or protest if someone votes in their place.
One reason that the average voter, across both party lines and across all ethnicities, support a photo ID voter law is that they know you can’t function in the modern world without showing ID. You can’t cash a check, pay by check, travel by plane or even train, register for school, enter any federal building, or even rent a video without being asked for one. You can’t even enter the Governor’s Mansion in Raleigh without producing one. If it’s important enough to secure the safety of public officials, why shouldn’t it be important enough to secure the integrity of the voting process.
Instances of fraud never benefit the party that promotes Voter ID laws. It’s always the group that fights exhaustively to block such laws. Why is that? To law-abiding and well-intentioned citizens, it seems to beg the question: “Do they want the right to vote or do they want the right to vote illegally?”
In April – May, I worked the early voting polls for 13 days. I worked the most heavily populated poll until it closed each day at 5:00 and then drove down the road to work the poll that stayed open until 7:00. On primary election day, I worked my precinct for 12 hours, until closing. Voter ID was on everyone’s minds. Many voters made it known that they supported a voter ID. I can’t provide an exact figure for how many people told me that when they went in to vote, they intentionally pulled out their ID to show the poll officials. When the officials commented that an ID was not necessary, many said that they wanted to show it anyway to PROVE they are the person they claim to be. A few ladies told me that when the officials told them an ID was not necessary, they questioned them in detail as to how they can be sure the person voting is the real deal. The answer in all instances was the same: “We can’t.” A member of the Republican Women’s group told me that when she went in to vote, several people took out their driver’s licenses. Upon seeing that, the rest of the people in the room did the same. And yet another woman went into the polling location I was working and gave a fake name – a common name. When the official scrolled the names on the computer, the voter pointed to the screen and said – just to make a point: “That’s who I want to vote as today.” She, of course, proceeded to vote legally, but she wanted to show the officials just how easy it is to vote as someone else, especially early in the early voting period.
The experience at the polls reminded me of something I had read earlier in the month of April. Filmmaker James O’Keefe went to DC to document just how easy it is to commit voter fraud and why Voter ID requirements are important. In particular, he wanted to make this point for US Attorney General Eric Holder who continues to make a full-time career at blocking states’ voter ID laws and rigging the voting system to favor Democrats’ efforts. O’Keefe sent one of his assistants to the Nebraska Avenue polling place in Washington DC where Attorney General Holder has been registered for the last 29 years, equipped with a hidden camera. He easily documented his encounter with an election worker:
Assistant: “Do you have an Eric Holder, 50th Street?
Poll worker: “Let me see here.”
Assistant: “Xxxx 50th Street.”
Poll Worker: ”Let’s see, Holder, Hol-t-e-r, or Hold-d-e-r?”
Poll Worker: ”D-e-r. Okay.”
Assistant: “That’s the name.”
Assistant: ”I do. Xxxx 50th Street NW. Okay. [Puts check next to name, indicating someone has shown up to vote.] Will you sign there….”
Assistant: ”I actually forgot my ID.”
Poll Worker: ”You don’t need it; it’s all right.”
Assistant: ”I left it in the car.”
Poll Worker: “As long as you’re in here, and you’re on our list and that’s who you say you are, we’re okay.”
Assistant: ”I would feel more comfortable if I go get my ID, is it all right if I go get it?”
Poll Worker: ”Sure, go ahead.”
Assistant: ”I’ll be back faster than you can say furious!” [Now that's just good humor !!]
Poll Worker: ”We’re not going anywhere.”
Note that O’Keefe’s assistant never identified himself as Eric Holder, so he was not illegally impersonating him. Furthermore, he never attempted to vote using the ballot that was offered to him, so the assistant himself cannot be accused of voter fraud.
O’Keefe puts the Voter ID issue in proper perspective. “This is not a right-left issue. It’s a basic fairness one—people should only vote in their own name.” And Larry Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and author of a comprehensive survey of voter fraud called “Dirty Little Secrets, comments: “From voter fraud to election chicanery of all kinds, America teeters on the edge of scandal every November. The fact that so many people want to thwart legitimate and prudent efforts to improve ballot integrity has become a scandal in its own right.”
With all this information, the NC General Assembly still is unable to pass a Voter ID law that the overwhelming number of North Carolinians want. NC Speaker of the House, Thom Tillis is ready to compromise on North Carolina’s pending Voter ID bill – “Restore Confidence in Government,” or H.R. 351. The bill passed the NC House and Senate but was vetoed by Governor Purdue on June 23rd of last year. The bill states: (a) “Every individual voting in person shall present photo identification to a local election official at the voting place before voting; and (b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), any voter without photo identification shall be permitted to vote a provisional official ballot.” The bill is clear on its face that no person shall be denied the opportunity to vote legally. The goal of the bill is stated in its title – “Restore Confidence in Government.” It is not “Voter Disenfranchisement.”
Speaker Tillis is willing to compromise on the bill for several reasons, which his staff shared with a concerned citizen who called his office. The citizen was told that the bill might have to be weakened for several reasons, and he listed them:
(1) The bill won’t pass as is. It was vetoed and there isn’t a single Democrat who will cross party lines and vote for the bill; hence they won’t be able to over-ride the veto.
(2) The bill will still have some “teeth” because of a provision that permits voters to be perjured if they claim to be who they aren’t. (Of course, this might be meaningful if the State would actually prosecute or even have the funds to set aside for such cases. We’ve all heard of instances when the board of elections refuse to look into legitimate instances of voter fraud and abuse).
(3) If the people are not happy with the compromise, then they can take it upon themselves to call their Democratic representatives and try to sway their votes.
(4) They can always try to “fix” it later.
Any citizen in North Carolina who is outraged that our state can’t use common sense and apply the wisdom of the Supreme Court on this matter of providing for some form of proof of identity at the polls should immediately contact their legislator. Contact information for each NC legislator can be found at www.ncleg.net at the top of the site under “View Member Info.”
For those who don’t think it’s worth the time to effect meaningful voter integrity procedures, remember the election of 1960 when John F. Kennedy was declared president amidst allegations of massive voter fraud. There were 68 million votes cast in the 1960 election. The margin of victory for Kennedy (Democrat) over Richard Nixon (Republican) was a mere 113,000 votes. Kennedy won the election with less than 0.2% of the popular vote (0.16%). Many Republicans (including challenger Richard Nixon and former President Dwight D. Eisenhower) believed that Kennedy had benefited from massive vote fraud, especially in Texas, where Kennedy’s running mate Lyndon B. Johnson was Senator, and Illinois, home of Mayor Richard Daley. The Washington Post wrote: “The election of November 8 was characterized by such gross and palpable fraud as to justify the conclusion that [Nixon] was deprived of victory.” Chicago was not only known for its powerful Democratic political machine but also for the power of one of its most notorious mobsters, Sam Giancana. It was rumored that both Mayor Daley and Giancana and the Chicago mafia played a critical role in Kennedy’s victory in Illinois. In the 1992, Giancana’s nephew wrote a book (“Double Cross: Inside Story of the Mobster Who Controlled America”) in which he recounts how his uncle rigged the election in Cook County (Chicago being the seat).
Kennedy won Illinois by less than 9,000 votes out of the 4.75 million votes that were cast, which reflected a margin of 0.2%. Yet Nixon carried 92 of the state’s 101 counties. Kennedy’s victory in Illinois came from the city of Chicago, where Mayor Daley suspiciously held back much of Chicago’s vote until the late morning hours of November 9. When the votes were turned in that morning, Kennedy took Cook County by an extraordinary 450,000 vote margin, which represented more than 10% of Chicago’s 1960 population of 3.55 million. This was alarming since Cook County also included many suburbs outside of Chicago’s borders which happened to turn in a heavily Republican vote. Earl Mazo, a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune at the time, investigated the voting in Chicago and claimed to have discovered sufficient evidence of vote fraud to prove that the state was stolen for Kennedy. Among the evidence he found was a cemetery in one Chicago precinct where the names on the head stones were registered voters who had actually voted and an address that 56 Kennedy voters listed as their address. What he found was an abandoned, demolished house.
The Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit challenging the Chicago results, but amidst another cloud of suspicion, the lawsuit was assigned to the courtroom of a judge known by everyone to be friendly to Daley and the Democratic party – Circuit Court Judge Thomas Kluczynski. After predictably dismissing the lawsuit, Kluczynski would later be rewarded by President Kennedy, upon a request by Mayor Daley, with an appointment to the federal bench. Eventually, however, a special prosecutor was assigned to the case and brought charges against 650 people accused of committing voter fraud but none resulted in convictions. Three Chicago election workers were convicted of voter fraud in 1962 and served short terms in jail.
There were verified accounts of voter fraud in Texas as well. Fannin County had only 4,895 registered voters, yet 6,138 votes were cast, 75% of which went to Kennedy. In one precinct in Angelina County, only 86 people voted yet the final tally was 147 for Kennedy and 24 for Nixon. But Texas refused to conduct a recount. The Texas Election Board consisted entirely of Democrats and it went ahead and certified John Kennedy the winner in Texas.
After numerous Democratic judges dismissed Republican charges of voter fraud, Kennedy was inaugurated. Following Kennedy’s inauguration, the U.S. Department of Justice performed an inconclusive investigation into the accumulated evidence of voter fraud. The head of the DOJ was none other than U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, brother of you-know-who.
Instances of voter fraud are simply not punished and the threat of such therefore provides no meaningful deterrent.
We have a very important election coming up and what happened in 1960 in Chicago should send a chill up all our spines. Voting rights are important because they protect so many other rights. They protect the people’s voice in government. The integrity of the election process to safeguard “one person, one vote” must be maintained and all state officials should be concerned with the state’s legitimate interest in protecting that constitutional principle and managing the election process for fair and confident results.
Diane Rufino is a scientist, lawyer, and teacher who lives in Greenville with her husband and 4 children.
Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 171, pg. 172 (2008).
Michele Malkin, “Voter rolls: We see dead people. Does the DOJ?,” September 7, 2010. Referenced at:
John Fund, “Why We Need Voter ID Laws Now,” National Review Online, April 9, 2012. Referenced at: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/295431/why-we-need-voter-id-laws-now-john-fund#. Also see Breitbart News: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/04/09/Fund-Voter-Fraud-OKeefe
“NBC Informs Viewers 1.8 Million Dead People are Still Registered to Vote,” News Busters, February 16, 2012. Referenced at: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/brad-wilmouth/2012/02/16/nbc-informs-viewers-18-million-dead-people-are-still-registered-vote
“Majority Supports Voter ID Law, Obama Ahead of GOP Rivals, Poll Shows,” The Pilot, April 11, 2012. Referenced at: http://www.thepilot.com/news/2012/apr/11/majority-supports-voter-id-law-obama-ahead-gop-riv/]
Susan Myrick, “Incumbent Wins Washington County Sheriff Re-Do,” Civitas Review Online. Referenced at: http://www.civitasreview.com/politicians/incumbent-wins-washington-county-sheriff%E2%80%99s-re-do-election/
http://www.chipublib.org/004chicago/timeline/population.html (Chicago’s population)
Gerald Posner, “The Fallacy of Nixon’s Graceful Exit,” Salon, November 10, 2000. Referenced at: http://www.salon.com/2000/11/10/nixon_4/
Tim Faye, ” Will Gore steal the election from Bush like Kennedy stole it from Nixon in 1960?,” Adversity.net, November 22, 2000. Referenced at: http://www.adversity.net/FRAMES/Editorials/27_1960v2000_Kennedy.htm
Peter Carlson, “Another Race to the Finish” The Washington Post, November 17, 2000. Referenced at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A36425-2000Nov16?language=printer