In July of 2011, New Hampshire governor John Lynch vetoed a bill that would have required New Hampshire voters to show photo ID before entering the polls. “Voter turnout in New Hampshire is among the highest in the nation, election after election. There is no voter fraud problem in New Hampshire,” said Governor Lynch in a statement last summer. “We already have strong election laws that are effective in regulating our elections.” Not surprisingly, the governor was outraged last week when a watchdog group, Project Veritas, organized an undercover sting operation to test the veracity of his reassurances. What they found was appalling, if not unexpected.
The incidents, which were recorded on hidden cameras, involved actors entering multiple polling places and obtaining ballots using the names of deceased voters. Some of these late voters had been dead for well over a year. When the actors explained that they had forgotten to bring any ID with them, they were told by poll workers that New Hampshire law didn’t require them to show ID. In each case, the actors, feigning shock, said they would feel more comfortable if they went out to their vehicles to get their ID. According to Project Veritas, none of the actors cast a vote with the ballots they had acquired during the sting.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-uVhhIlPk0]
Furthermore, in an official statement about the investigative videos, Project Veritas explained,
“not a single one of our citizen journalists broke any laws or misrepresented themselves in any way to election officials or anyone else while filming this report. They simply inquired to poll workers if a certain individual’s name was present on the voter list, and were then offered a ballot with no further questions…”
Shockingly, rather than owning that, in light of the expose, measures should be taken to make the system in New Hampshire more effective, Governor Lynch has condemned the sting operation altogether and is calling for Project Veritas to be prosecuted for obtaining ballots under false pretenses.
“I think it is outrageous that we have out-of-staters coming into New Hampshire, [said the governor] coming into our polling places and misrepresenting themselves to the election officials, and I hope that they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, if in fact they’re found guilty of some criminal act.”
Joining the governor in this blatant refusal to acknowledge the facts are Keith Olbermann, Ryan Reilly and MSNBC’s Al Sharpton. Sharpton’s coverage bears the heading, “James O’Keefe has another run-in with the law,” and over the course of the bitterly partisan six-minute session of commentary, Sharpton calls O’Keefe “the professional smear artist who was behind the fake ACORN scam,” and adds that O’Keefe “sent his cohorts out to fraudulently collect ballots in New Hampshire.”
Olbermann states: “…James O’Keefe has struck again, exposing the non-existent problem of voter fraud in New Hampshire. The conservative filmmaker and others working on behalf of Project Veritas are now facing a criminal investigation by [New Hampshire’s] attorney general. There is every indication that O’Keefe and his colleagues committed voter fraud at primary polling locations Tuesday night.”
So, wait. Let me get this straight – citizen journalists conduct a sting operation for the purpose of raising concern about voter fraud and when they release the tapes they are the ones who get charged with voter fraud?
“Has voter fraud ever been a problem in New Hampshire?” Olbermann asks of Ryan Reilly in an interview devoted almost solely to discrediting Project Veritas.
“You know, it really – there’s no evidence that it has,” responds Reilly. “Specifically in-person voter – impersonation fraud hasn’t been an issue, nor has it been across the country.”
Project Veritas’ actors were given a similar story by Ryk Bullock, the New Hampshire Ward Moderator whom they consulted for the purpose of expressing their concerns about the possibility of voter fraud. When asked whether fraudulent impersonation could occur, Bullock explained,
“It could, it could…[But] I’ve been here 43 years and, to the best of my knowledge, I’ve never had it happen. In theory, it could happen…”
But it doesn’t happen, they assure us. It can, of course, as there aren’t sufficient safeguards to prevent it (as demonstrated by the recent sting). But it won’t.
Should we find this nonchalance reassuring, or should it cause us to become doubtful about the integrity of the officials and media moguls who continue to drill us in the unconstitutionality of photo ID laws? When we stop to consider, we will realize that every vote cast fraudulently cancels out the vote of some conscientious citizen who took care to register legally and provide the required information in order to be able to perform his or her civic duties. The argument that such votes will not be cast even though they can be is absurd. It’s like arguing that we shouldn’t have lifeguards at public pools where no one is ever known to have drowned, or suggesting that we abolish fire departments in areas that have never been ravaged by forest fires.
Voting legally is a fairly painless process. I recently registered to vote in Texas, and it could hardly have been easier. I signed up online to receive the simple registration form, which was mailed to me. After filling it out, I dropped it in my mailbox. I didn’t even have to pay for postage. Under pending photo ID laws, voters will be able to flash any form of government-issued photographic identification at the polls. This could be a drivers’ license, passport, gun permit card, or any ID card issued by your local DMV office. Registered voters who do not possess photo ID will be provided with the necessary ID by The Department of Safety and Homeland Security at no charge. As photo ID is already required for the purchase of tobacco or alcohol products, vehicle rentals and banking transactions, it is safe to assume that most citizens of legal voting age will already be in possession of such ID. The only residents who might have difficulty in obtaining photographic identification are – well, non-citizens. And they aren’t allowed to vote anyway.
So, what is all of the fuss really about? That’s a good question. Perhaps Keith Olbermann answers it best himself,
“The right wing’s fixation with voter fraud is largely used as a justification for passing restrictive ballot access measure designed to suppress voter turnout among people who tend to vote for Democrats.”
Exactly who are these “people who tend to vote for Democrats”? People who can’t obtain photo ID? Wait, that means they’re probably illegal.
Will new photo ID laws cause some hassle for those legal citizens who don’t already possess the necessary identification and are forced to get a lift down to their local DMV office? Yes. But as Thomas Sowell reminds us, “There are no solutions….there are only tradeoffs.” Inconveniencing a miniscule percentage of the population in order to protect the votes of millions of legal Americans sounds like a pretty good tradeoff to me.