The New York Times summarizes today the utter failure of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (a big pal and ally of Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin) to prove in a federal court challenge by the ACLU the need for a law to require proof of citizenship to vote.
As with photo ID laws, Kobach’s rule “works” — that is, it succeeds at keeping thousands of people legally entitled from voting. But such laws are unnecessary.
Strict voter ID laws kept 17,000 from the polls in critical Wisconsin in 2016 and you can bet they would have narrowed
Kansas has 1.8 million registered voters and since the law passed in 2013 it has found 11 cases in which non-citizens voted. In those cases, honest mistakes could explain the votes, not fraud.
Nationwide, serious studies have shown actual fraud almost impossible to measure it occurs so rarely.
Unfortunately, the courts have not always brought the appropriate degree of skepticism to these laws. The Supreme Court upheld the first voter-ID law it considered, in 2008, even though the Indiana lawmakers who passed it had not identified a single case of fraud that the law would have prevented. Former Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the opinion in that case, later called it a “fairly unfortunate decision.” Richard Posner, a former federal appeals court judge who also upheld the Indiana law, later said that voter-ID laws are “now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention.”
Circuit Judge Alice Gray could strike a blow for the franchise in Arkansas this week by ruling that the Arkansas Republican legislature has added an unconstitutional ID component again, designed as a workaround of an earlier Supreme Court decision. The Arkansas secretary of state is arguing — absent a shred of proof — that this is about preventing fraud. The point is irrelevant against the Constitution, which sets requirements for voting, including legal age and valid registration, but specifies no additional barriers may be added. The drafters required neither a photo ID at the polls nor a laborious makeup process to validate a provisional ballot should a voter happen to leave a wallet at home.