At a social conservatives’ conference this week, Iowa’s Secretary of State argued that Republicans need to pass voter ID in order to advance their top policy goals, including banning abortion and same-sex marriage.
Matt Schultz (R), elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010, spoke at length about his support for implementing voter ID in a speech before the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition on Monday. In the process he accused the other side of cheating in order to win elections, but provided no evidence to back up this claim:
SCHULTZ: There are a whole lot of issues that we care about, abortion, gay marriage, a whole lot of social issues that we care deeply about. But you have to start caring about voter ID and election integrity as well, because if you don’t have that, you’ll never be able to make a difference in any other issue you care about. Never. Because they will cheat! They’ll cheat. And we need to make sure we stop them. So what do I need you to do? I need you start telling your friends and neighbors that you love voter ID. You love voter ID.
There’s a reason why Schultz couldn’t provide any evidence that people are using voter fraud at the polls to rig elections: None exists. In-person voter fraud is extraordinarily rare; a study in nearby Wisconsin found a fraud rate of 0.0002 percent, far less common than even being struck by lightning. Still, a dearth of actual voter fraud hasn’t stopped conservatives from using it as a phantom menace to gin up support for voter ID.
Schultz isn’t the only Republican official pushing voter ID as a means for enacting the Party’s policy goals. Indeed, because approximately 1 in 10 Americans — particularly young voters and minorities, groups who tend to vote Democratic — lack photo ID, a strict voter ID requirement would help Republicans win more elections. Last year, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai famously declared that voter ID would help Mitt Romney win the state of Pennsylvania. Wisconsin State Sen. Glenn Grothman similarly argued that voter ID would help put Romney over the edge “in a close race.”