Politicians who have imposed a raft of suppressive voter laws over the past few years have justified those laws under claims of voter fraud. But asked to provide evidence of alleged fraud, even those who have undertaken expensive investigations have come up with very little.
In Iowa, for example, Secretary of State Matt Schultz could come up with only six examples of alleged voter fraud out of more than 1.6 million voters. That’s six people charged and arrested — not convicted. Last week, one of those individuals prosecuted for voter fraud was acquitted of perjury for allegedly lying on a voter form. Kelli Jo Griffin lost her voting rights because of a drug convictions. But a jury found Griffin did not lie, but instead believed her rights had been restored, and was not aware of a new Iowa policy requiring ex-offenders to apply to the state to restore the right to vote.
During an interview on NewsMax, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne (R) was asked about this case, and moves to automatically restore the voting rights of those who have completed their sentences.
He warned, “I can just picture politicians appealing to the convicted felons’ vote by saying that they’ll legalize bank robbery or whatever. It doesn’t really make sense to permit convicted felons to vote.”
We don’t have to speculate about what the outcome would be if states were to allow ex-offenders to vote. At least 25 states already do, including Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia. Thus far, these states have seen nothing resembling a campaign to end law and order.
And despite Horne’s claim, these laws didn’t originate with that rationale. Felon disenfranchisement laws were passed after Reconstruction just as slaves were being freed, when 90 percent of the Southern prison population was black, according to the Department of Justice. To this day, the laws disenfranchises 1 in 13 African Americans. And that figure is 1 in 5 in three states that retain these laws: Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia. Overall, the count of current and former felons who cannot vote is 5.8 million — more than the individual populations of 31 U.S. states.
In February, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called for an end to these policies, which are part of a U.S. history of discriminatory voter suppression “too often based on exclusion, animus, and fear.” Among his strongest allies in this effort is Republican Senator Rand Paul (KY).