A report by the Government Accountability Board came out Monday saying it could cost the state as much as $14.5 million to end same-day voter registration.
State Republicans are still considering the measure to end same-day registration anyway, because, of course they are. Following in the footsteps of the Voter ID bill, Republicans continue to put forth policies aimed at repressing voter turnout under the guise of fighting voter fraud.
There is only one problem with this fight, and that of course is voter fraud isn’t a problem at all. Is the idea that people are out there rigging elections a scary concept, sure, but it has no basis in reality. Not only is there no evidence to show it’s a problem, there’s plenty evidence to show voter fraud is not a problem.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who formed an election fraud task force just to show us all how much of a problem voter fraud was, could only find 20 instances of it in the entire state in the 2008 election. Three million people voted in that election, so that means that a whopping 0.0000066 percent of votes were fraudulent. And we caught them, so, good job.
Remember those voter fraud billboards in Milwaukee that were a little too obviously trying to scare people?
About a month before the presidential election in November, a bunch of signs popped up in Milwaukee saying, “Voter fraud is a felony! 3 ? years and up to a $10,000 fine.” That right there is all the state of Wisconsin will ever need to prevent voter fraud. And no I don’t mean the billboards – I mean the giant penalty for an individual crime that has no statistical relevance anyway.
I mean, I respect the creation of an imaginary boogieman to scare the public into agreeing to laws that would disenfranchise voters in your opponent’s base as much as the next guy, but come on, voter fraud?
Let’s just imagine I’m John “vote twice” Doe. What exactly is my incentive to commit this crime that will land me in jail and cost me $10,000? One extra vote is going to put my guy over the top, two extra votes, three?
People are not committing voter fraud. And it’s gotten a little sad that in 2013 we aren’t seeing laws passed that make it easier for people to vote. Why can’t I see a proposal for a way to make online voting a reality (because Anonymous would take over the world), or expanding voting hours, a two-day election period or better early voting opportunities?
I’m sure this proposal to end same-day registration isn’t going to go anywhere, and not least because it would have taxpayers spending money to make it harder to vote.
It’s a thinly-veiled attempt at disenfranchisement, plain and simple. But at some point can’t we have elected officials who are actually interested in making it easier for taxpayers to exercise their constitutional right to vote instead of chasing boogiemen?
John Waters (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior majoring in journalism.