An effort to place a common voter suppression measure on the Nevada ballot this November failed. Organizers of the initiative, who included former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle, had to turn in over 100,000 signatures by 5 p.m. on Tuesday in order to trigger a vote on whether Nevada voters should be required to show photo ID before they can cast a ballot. The deadline came and went, and voter registrars in two counties said they’d received no petitions whatsoever.
Voter ID’s supporters typically justify such laws by claiming they are necessary to prevent people from showing up at the polls pretending to be someone else. This form of voter fraud, however, is practically non-existent. Indeed, a statewide investigation by Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R) — a leading supporter of voter ID — uncovered exactly zero cases of voter impersonation fraud in that state. Studies of voter fraud in other states reached similar results.
Voter ID does, however, disproportionately disenfranchise several groups that tend to prefer Democrats to Republicans, including low-income voters, students and voters of color. Indeed, after Pennsylvania’s state legislature passed a voter ID law that was later struck down by the courts, House Leader Mike Turzai (R-PA) bragged that the law would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
Although the Nevada ballot initiative is dead for now, it could arise again after another petition signature drive. Indeed, this attempt to put voter ID on the state ballot may have failed because a successful lawsuit challenging the formal description of the ballot initiative forced signature gatherers to restart their gathering anew last month.