January 8, 2008

Editorial Gets It Right, News Department Should Follow

Today the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel completely nailed the issue of requiring voter IDs to vote.  The editorial was written in the context of a voter ID case scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court today.  Specifically, it is concerning an Indiana law that is among the strictest in the nation. 

The editorial states that the court “should side with the position that enables as many people as possible to vote.”  Further, they quite directly point out that efforts to enact such strict laws are transparent attempts by Republicans to force down voter turnout in largely Democratic leaning areas.  This is certainly no news flash to anyone that is paying attention, but it is encouraging for the state’s largest newspaper to lay out the reality of the matter. 

Today the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel completely nailed the issue of requiring voter IDs to vote.  The editorial was written in the context of a voter ID case scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court today.  Specifically, it is concerning an Indiana law that is among the strictest in the nation. 

The editorial states that the court “should side with the position that enables as many people as possible to vote.”  Further, they quite directly point out that efforts to enact such strict laws are transparent attempts by Republicans to force down voter turnout in largely Democratic leaning areas.  This is certainly no news flash to anyone that is paying attention, but it is encouraging for the state’s largest newspaper to lay out the reality of the matter. 

Both before and after every major election in Wisconsin and across the country, conservatives jump up and down about alleged voter fraud.  In Wisconsin even conservative U.S. Attorney Biskupic has said that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud here.  In many ways, this honest analysis almost cost him his job after Wisconsin Republicans complained to the White House that he was not prosecuting enough nonexistent voter fraud cases. 

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editorial board apparently knows what the news department has constantly ignored.  There are very few problems with voting in Wisconsin and even the ones that have been identified have more to do with clerical error and staffing issues, not voter fraud.  It would be nice if the news department would stop running headlines for every bogus right wing analysis on voting in Wisconsin.  Rather they should identify the real motives behind such propaganda and do a real analysis based on facts and reality. 

In the first study of its kind, the Brennan Justice Center determined that the vast majority of voter fraud claims across the country in 2004 were completely inaccurate.  Specifically regarding the right wing claims in Wisconsin, the analysis found some of the following:

  • There were 7 substantiated cases of individuals knowingly casting invalid votes-all persons with felony convictions. This amounts to a rate of 0.0025% within Milwaukee and 0.0002% within the state as a whole. 
  •  There were 11 substantiated cases of votes cast by ineligible Milwaukee voters-all persons with felony convictions. There are 8 substantiated cases of votes cast by ineligible voters from other parts of the state – 2 persons with felony convictions, 1 foreign national, 1 17-year-old voter, and 4 absentee ballots cast by deceased voters. That amounts to a rate of 0.004% within Milwaukee and 0.0006% in the state as a whole.

The only real voter fraud issue going on is the fraud being perpetrated by conservatives in their effort to disenfranchise specific voters.  It is encouraging that the Editorial Board of the state’s largest paper can see that, it would be even better if the News Department would follow. 

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