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Are Republicans Trying to Disenfranchise Liberal Voters?

The answer may (not) surprise you.

7:20 PM, Mar 7, 2011 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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The left is very upset that up to 22 states with GOP-dominated legislatures are now looking to "disenfranchise" voters they don't like for the upcoming 2012 elections. Republicans lawmakers in states like New Hampshire and Wisconsin say their proposed changes to how and where college students can register to vote are about targeting voter fraud. But why won’t the Washington Post publish any examples of fraud?

The headline in today’s Post says it all: “State Republicans seek more limits on voters.” The article sets up a classic, simplistic narrative. Republican legislators are working to limit the ability of minorities and students to vote in elections, while Democrats and “independent” voting rights groups like Rock the Vote are saying it’s all politics. From the article (emphasis mine):

The debate over voter fraud has become a perennial issue since the contested 2000 presidential election. While limited by federal law and court rulings, states have authority over how they run elections. Although elections officials say there are occasional cases of fraud, experts say the battle lines are drawn largely along deeply partisan - and largely theoretical - lines.

"Election policy debates like photo ID and same-day registration have become so fierce around the country because they are founded more on passionate belief than proven fact," said Doug Chapin, an election-law expert at the Pew Center on the States. "One side is convinced fraud is rampant; the other believes that disenfranchisement is widespread. Neither can point to much in the way of evidence to support their position, so they simply turn up the volume."

Get that? Although the election officials in charge of tracking the elections say there are examples of fraud (anonymously they say it's "occasional"), experts like Doug Chapin know that it's simply partisan. The article makes no mention of several substantial investigations into and cases of voter fraud since 2000. In fact, contrary to Chapin’s claim, there is much evidence that liberal groups like ACORN have gotten away with plenty of fraud in the last several elections before 2010. (Read here, here, here, and here, for starters.) In a story where one side claims its motives are to root out fraud, wouldn’t some of this background information be appropriate?

In related news, the supreme court in Georgia has upheld a state law requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls.

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