Republican-controlled, so-called “Red” states have been passing voter ID laws for years now. The debate that has sparked over them is about whether these efforts to “certify” and “legitimize” the vote are actually just new version of poll taxes. Those of us on the left routinely point out that an extra ID to vote is just another barrier in the way between a voter and their constitutional right to exercise their voice. 2016 was the first election to be held without the 1964 Voting Rights Act in place, and we saw key states flip for Donald Trump that had gone to Barack Obama just four years prior.
It’s hard to know right away if voter suppression played a part in this year’s election, but one thing I know for sure is that I expect the same people howling and moaning about needing to ensure our elections are free from voter fraud will not be pleased at what President Obama ordered today. Then again, right-winger hypocrisy is sort of abundant these days. They harangued Bill Clinton over a consensual tryst with Monica Lewinsky, but then they elected a man who was caught on tape literally admitting to serial attempted sexual assault.
You can’t make that shit up if you try, and as a satirist, I try, every single day to make that kind of shit up.
As reported in The Huffington Post today, President Obama has ordered full-scale review of reports that outside forces, including those from Russia meddled in the election.
President Barack Obama has directed U.S. intelligence officials to produce a review of security breaches during the 2016 election and expects to receive results before he leaves office on Jan. 20, his homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, told reporters Friday. (source)
Before any right-wingers get their panties in a bunch, presuming that Obama is just making the need for a review up out of thin air, remember, as again reported by HuffPo, that intelligence officials believed way back in October, a month before the election, that hackers from Russia and elsewhere were attempting to influence the election.
The U.S. intelligence community announced on Oct. 7 that it believes hackers supported by the Russian government were responsible for meddling in the election process, including by targeting the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton adviser John Podesta and other notable political figures like former Secretary of State Colin Powell. (source)
Now, I’m not saying I know or believe that Russia or any other country had a hand in hacking and/or influencing our election. What I know is that our intelligence officials believe that Russia pulled some shit. I think, as an American citizen, it’s in all our best interests to keep our elections free from outside meddling. I would hope that no matter which political party you affiliate with, that you’d believe in that concept too.
The simple truth is that if you go looking for evidence of the kind of voter fraud conservatives want voter ID laws passed for, you’re going to be looking a long time. And you’ll probably come up empty handed. Back in August of this year, The Washington Post reported on just how rare in-person voter fraud — the kind of thing that voter ID laws are ostensibly designed to protect against — really is.
Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt looked at 14 years of voting and found 31 possible incidents of in-person voter fraud, comprised of approximately 241 fraudulent ballots. (source)
Now, you might be thinking that’s some good evidence there to support the theory that in-person voter fraud happens. And sure, while even the WaPo article points out that these cases were far from proven to be actual voter fraud, let’s just say that all of them were. This next bit isn’t going to make you feel very good if you support voter ID laws.
So that’s 241 ballots — out of 1 billion cast. That’s what the ticker above is sorting through, 1 billion imaginary ballots, 40 per second. Now the question: How often do you think that it will find a match? That is to say, on average, how long would you need to let the tool above run in order to find one of the 241 fraudulent ballots out of the 1 billion? (source)
241 out of one billion. Look, I tried to put that into my calculator, to divine the percentage of potentially fraudulent ballots out of a billion votes cast, and my calculator literally laughed, gave me the finger, and said, “Go do something else with your life.” We really can safely assume that voter fraud wherein someone goes to cast a ballot in someone else’s name, thereby needing a voter ID to prove one’s stated identity is mythological as tax cuts for the wealthy trickling down to the plebs.
The right is trying like hell to paint the notion of Russia interfering in our elections as the same kind of conspiracy-theory nonsense they buy into about pizza parlor pedophile rings. They want us all to believe that we’re the crazy ones for just wanting the stories checked out and either confirmed or squashed. I get it, they just won the White House for the first time in nearly a decade and have a vested interest in keeping it. But I don’t think they understand it only helps their cause if we investigate the hacks and find Trump still won “fair and square.”
The simple, unvarnished truth is that if Republicans really do care about the integrity of our elections, they’ll support Obama’s directive. They’ll admit that at the very least there’s evidence worth investigating. I’m not even saying we should overturn the results of the election unless we find something truly damning, like Trump and crew ordered the hacks and knew they were trying to steal an election.
We need to feel in this country that our elections are as purely run as they can be. If Republicans get to wag their finger and stomp their feet over voter fraud they can’t even prove exists, then we on the left are entitled to have our government investigate the more concrete evidence of outside hacking and meddling into our elections. Otherwise, we’re going to assume that the Republicans are just playing shallow political theater with the voter ID laws and truly do just want to suppress the vote in their favor.
…but Republicans are never, ever hypocritical right?
Follow James on Twitter @JamboSchlarmbo.