League of Women Voters takes on ‘myths about voter impersonation’

By | 12.02.11 | 12:50 pm

The League of Women Voters, a group that this year halted its long history of registering voters in Florida, has released a breakdown of what the group calls “myths” about voter fraud that have circulated in state legislatures in the past year.

Alleged high incidences of voter fraud/impersonation were at the root of elections laws passed in state legislatures (including in Florida) that many argue will disenfranchise millions of otherwise eligible voters during the 2012 election.

Here are the five “myths” the League is seeking to dispel:

  1. MYTH: Voter impersonation is a widespread problem. FACT:Between 2002 and 2007, after undertaking a massive investigation into voting irregularities, the U.S. Justice Department did not prosecute a single individual for impersonating another voter at the polls.
  2. MYTH: Third party registration drives contribute to voter impersonation. FACT: Since 2008, only 31 cases of suspected voter impersonation have been reported to Florida authorities. But due to a restrictive new law there, the League has been forced to suspend its Florida voter registration activities for the first time in 72 years.
  3. MYTH: Everyone either has an ID or can easily obtain one. FACT: 11 percent of eligible voters or about 21 million people, don’t have updated, state-issued photo IDs. Furthermore, most states require producing a passport or birth certificate to get one. This presents a tremendous burden for people who work multiple jobs, lack transportation, have disabilities, live outside the state they were born, are poor or elderly.
  4. MYTH: Election Day registration invites voter impersonation. FACT: An investigation by the Secretary of State in Maine – which was the first state to adopt Election Day registration – did not find evidence of voting irregularities due to same day registration.
  5. MYTH: Early voting increases voter impersonation. FACT: Incidents of impersonation in early voting are just as rare as they are in Election Day balloting. A CBS News report on 17 early voting states revealed no widespread signs of irregularities in the 2008 election.

The groups points to the the American Legislative Exchange Council, a right-wing group “funded by power barons like Kraft Foods, McDonalds, Pfizer and the Koch brothers,” as the main propagators of these myths.

Florida officials say they were seeking to address rampant voter fraud by enacting an elections law that creates new restrictions on third-party voter registration drives, a shortened “shelf life” for signatures collected for ballot initiatives, obstacles for voters looking to change their registered addresses on election day and a reduction in the number of early voting days.

The League of Women Voters has intervened in a case filed by the state of Florida to have a court in D.C. approve four of the most controversial parts of the state’s new elections law. The group’s legal intervention led to almost a dozen state policy-makers being subpoenaed and asked to produce “all documents concerning your, or any other legislator’s, reasons, justifications, rationales, interests and/or purposes in enacting any of the four sets of voting changes.”

A U.S. Senate committee has announced it will be conducting congressional field hearings into the Florida’s voting law.

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