You may remember last week when Lt. Gov Mark Darr put out his little op-ed advocating for voter suppression. You may also remember that I called him out over it, pointing out that he didn’t point to a single example of voter fraud. Republicans never do because there really are so few examples. Statistically, voter fraud is so rare that you are more likely to be hit by lightning than for it to occur. However, there are far to many examples of American’s being denied their most sacred right, the right to vote, because of the same laws that Darr is advocating to bring to Arkansas. ThinkProgress highlighted seven such examples:
- Ricky Tyrone Lewis is a 58 year-old Marine Corps veteran. Despite the fact that he was able to offer Wisconsin voting officials proof of his honorable discharge from the Marines, Milwaukee County has been unable to find the record of his birth that he needs in order to obtain a voter ID card.
- Ruthelle Frank is an 84 year-old former elected official who voted in every election for the last 63 years, yet she will be unable to obtain a voter ID unless she pays a fee to obtain a birth certificate from the Wisconsin government — despite the fact that the Constitution explicitly forbids any voter from being charged a fee in order to vote. Worse, because the attending physician at her birth misspelled her name on her original birth certificate, she may need to pay hundreds of dollars in court fees to petition the state judiciary to correct her certificate before she can obtain a voter ID.
- Paul Carroll is an 86-year-old World War II veteran who has lived in the same Ohio town for four decades. Yet, when he attempted to vote in the recent Ohio primary, he was told his photo ID from the Department of Veterans Affairs was not good enough because it did not include his address.
- Dorothy Cooper is a 96-year-old African-American woman who says she has voted in every election but one since she became eligible to vote. Yet, when she attempted to obtain a voter ID, she was turned away because she did not have a copy of her marriage license. In a subsequent interview, Cooper said that she didn’t even have problems voting in Tennessee “during Jim Crow days” — only now under Voter ID.
- Thelma Mitchell is a 93-year-old woman who cleaned the Tennessee Capitol for 30 years. She never received a birth certificate, however, because she was delivered by a midwife in Alabama in 1918 and there was no record of her birth. When she attempted to obtain a voter ID, she was turned away for lack of a birth certificate by a clerk who suggested she could be an illegal immigrant.
- Virginia Lasater is a 91-year-old woman who has been active in political campaigns for 70 years. Because of her advanced age, however, she is no longer able to stand for extended periods of time. When she attempted to obtain a voter ID, she was confronted with lines that stretched for several hours and no place to sit while she waited — forcing her to abandon her effort to obtain an ID due to her physical constraints.
- Darwin Spinks is an 86 year-old World War II veteran. He was told to pay a fee before he could obtain a voter ID in Tennessee, despite the fact that charging someone to vote is unconstitutional.
- Rita Platt is a Wisconsin resident who was turned away from her attempt to obtain a voter ID because she required either a birth certificate or a passport to obtain one — both of which can only be obtained if the voter pays a fee. Worse, in Wisconsin, voters must fill out a misleading form which suggests that they cannot obtain the birth certificate they need to obtain a photo ID unless they already have a photo ID.
- Jessica Cohen is a Texas resident who lost her license and other identification papers in a burglary. She now must also pay an unconstitutional fee in order to obtain the birth certificate she needs to obtain a new voter ID. Because Cohen lives in Texas, she will likely be able to vote in 2012 because the Department of Justice blocked Texas’ law under the Voting Rights Act — although there is a high risk that the Supreme Court’s conservatives will declare the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional.
These are all real Americans with real and alarming stories. They could also just as easily be someone you know should Mark Darr and the Republicans have their way. So I decided to ask Darr if he could match those seven cases with examples of voter fraud. Here’s how the conversation played out on Twitter:
Gotta love the snark on that last point where he’s cornered and can’t come up with any proven examples of fraud. The grand jury investigation he’s pointing to is, of course, the one in Crittenden County revolving around Hudson Hallum’s race, but again there is no proven example of fraud occurring, just the investigation into it. But hey, I was willing to give him and his office the benefit of the doubt and wait until this evening to point all this out thinking surely they could come up with some examples by then. In fact, I did as he requested I do and contacted his office, emailing out this little request and cc’ing his entire four person staff:
Hi there, @ltgovmarkdarr told me to email the Lt. Gov office to request proven examples of voter fraud from around the country. So far, Lt. Governor Darr has not been able to provide any specific proven examples of such fraud. I was hoping that as an advocate of voter id laws he’d be able to provide at least seven examples to match the seven examples of American citizens wrongfully denied their right to vote that I provided on Blue Arkansas following his op-ed in support of such laws. On his twitter post, Lt. Governor Darr assurred me that he would send such verified cases of voter fraud to me if I contacted his office. Would it be possible to get them by Monday???
David McAvoy (ARDem)
So far, nothing. You would think if voter fraud was this big of a problem, Republicans would be ready and able to point to proven examples of its occurrence. But of course this alleged tsunami of voter fraud is a myth and what Republicans are really trying to do is suppress the right to vote, specifically of voting blocks they think are likely to vote for Democrats-the poor, minorities, etc. It’s Jim Crow all over again, only with a twenty-first century spin.
But hey, I’ll gladly give Darr more time if he needs it to come up with examples. After all, if he and his party are so intent on imposing restrictions on the right to vote, they should be required and able to point to examples of an identifiable problem right? That’s not too much to ask now is it?