Justice

Santorum To ThinkProgress: ‘The Only Reason You Don’t Have A Voter ID Is You Want To Continue To Perpetrate Fraud’

Rick Santorum (right) thinks Dorothy Cooper (left) and anyone else without a voter ID are just trying to "perpetrate fraud"

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin — To Rick Santorum, the more than 23 million American voters who don’t have a government-issued photo ID aren’t potential victims of disenfranchisement. The presidential hopeful uses a different name: perpetrators of fraud.

ThinkProgress spoke with the Republican presidential hopeful about voter ID laws — which require that citizens present a certain form of photo identification or they are barred from voting — during a campaign stop in Milwaukee last weekend. Santorum said that he supports such laws because, as he states it, “the only reason you don’t have a voter ID is you want to continue to perpetrate fraud.” He went on to dismiss the notion that anyone might not have access to a voter ID, saying that “it’s not a problem.”

KEYES: Voter ID has been a big issue here in Wisconsin. I know Lindsey Graham has proposed a national voter ID law. Is that something you would sign as president?

SANTORUM: I think that’s a state issue. I support voter ID. In my opinion, the only reason you don’t have a voter ID is you want to continue to perpetrate fraud.

KEYES: What about folks who don’t have access to a voter ID though?

SANTORUM: As you know, in every state they allow free access to free voter ID, so it’s not a problem.

Watch it:

Santorum’s claim falls somewhere in the murky world between audacity and lunacy. More than one in ten Americans lack a government-issued photo ID. These people are not committing voter fraud — indeed, voter fraud is rarer than getting struck by lightning — they are potentially having their right to vote stripped away. Santorum appears to have confused the disenfranchisees with the disenfranchisers.

Here are just a few people that Santorum believes “perpetrate fraud.” Dorothy Cooper, a 96 year-old African American woman from Tennessee who was denied a voter ID because she didn’t have a copy of her marriage certificate. She said the ordeal was worse than anything she’d experienced in the Jim Crow era. Ruthelle Frank, an 84 year-old Wisconsin woman, who may be forced to pay as much as $200 to get the proper documents for a voter ID, despite the Constitution’s prohibition on charging citizens a fee to vote. A Texas resident named Jessica Cohen also finds herself unable to obtain the necessary documents for a voter ID after she lost her identification in a robbery. These are just three of the more than 23 million people committing voter fraud in Santorum’s mind.

Many citizens don’t have immediate access to their birth certificate or similar documents required for a voter ID. Similarly, in rural areas of states like Texas, some citizens live 100 miles or more from the nearest ID agency. Already lacking a driver’s license, it’s not difficult to see how traversing 100+ miles of the Texas desert might be difficult for someone looking to get a voter ID. Santorum, however, dismissed the notion that any of these people might be disenfranchised by a voter ID requirement: “it’s not a problem.”