A Maryland Democratic candidate quit her congressional race Monday after her own party told state officials that she had committed fraud by voting in both Maryland and Florida in recent elections.
Wendy Rosen, a small-business owner running against freshman Rep. Andy Harris (R) in the Eastern Shore-based 1st Congressional District, released a statement saying that “with great regret, and much sorrow” she was resigning from the contest.
I post this to make a point. Voter ID laws have been proposed and passed around the country with much controversy. Democrats are decrying them as a vote-surpression measure; Republicans are praising them for rooting out fraud. Some of them have problems: here in Pennsylvania, there are people who are three or
fours four hours away from the nearest place they can get an ID. In general, I don’t think voter fraud is ridiculously common. I think it happens, but the idea that millions of fraudulent votes are cast each year and entire elections are being swung by this (outside of the odd Minnesota senate race) crosses me as a bit silly. But I don’t really see the objection to voter ID requirements, as long as getting the IDs is convenient and free. Really, what’s the harm? Why shouldn’t there be an ID requirement?
But … Democrats have been insisting that, rather than voter fraud being a small problem, that it is a non-existent problem. They cite the low number of prosecutions and convictions for voter fraud as proof.
But the tale of Wendy Rosen shows the flaw in this argument: voter fraud is not identified and prosecuted very much because there is no ID requirement. It is not prosecuted because there is no national system to prevent people from being registered in multiple states (as, indeed, the college Democrats at my school encouraged students to do before the administration told them to knock it off). We don’t really know the size of the problem because we have been prohibited from even considering it.
Voter ID probably would not have stopped Rosen, since she had a valid ID. This came from an anonymous tip within the campaign (methinks she was boasting about it). The elephant in the room here is that really cracking down on voter fraud is going to require a national ID card and a national voter database. Republicans and even many Democrats are opposed (as am I).
But let’s not pretend this problem does not exist. And let’s not pretend it can’t make a difference in a very close election like Franken v. Coleman or Gregoire v. Rossi. Because it’s obvious that it can. And it’s even more obvious to me that the Democrats know it.
Update: Not minutes after I posted this, I was sent this year-old article, alleging that the 2004 election was stolen. An election that Bush won by three million votes and in a state that Bush won by 100,000 votes.
So, to sum up: Republicans worried that a lack of ID will lead to voter fraud is hysterical dementia; Democrats with conspiracy theories about electronic voting is reasonable skepticism.