Maryann Tobin

The overkill from voter ID laws against virtually non-existent voter fraud is astonishing.

Voter ID laws put into place over the past two years by Republican state legislatures in more than 30 states are threatening to block 5.3 million legally registered American voters from casting ballots in 2012.

Strictly by the math, the number of legally registered voters that will be stopped from voting in 2012 by new voter ID laws far exceeds the number of cases of voter fraud ever recorded in U.S. history.

Therefore, voter ID laws have become like a giant sledgehammer designed to squash a flea. By swinging it around America, it knocks out far more than the intended target. The collateral damage has become a massive assault on free and fair elections and representative democracy itself.

Since new voter ID laws have only been proposed or enacted in Republican-controlled states, is this an attempt by Republicans to end free and legitimate elections in America?

A growing mountain of evidence is saying just that. In fact, the number of potentially blocked voters far exceeds the number of voter fraud cases, which Republicans claim is the reason for the new voter ID laws.

"Analysis of the resulting comprehensive News21 election fraud database turned up 10 cases of voter impersonation. With 146 million registered voters in the United States during that time, those 10 cases represent one out of about every 15 million prospective voters," according to NBC News.

Opponents of the voter ID laws claim the new requirements to vote were designed solely to tamper with election results and give Republican candidates an unfair edge.

"These new restrictions fall most heavily on young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities. This wave of changes may sharply tilt the political terrain for the 2012 election," according to Crooks and Liars.

The report cites a study done by the Brennan Center which found that "these new laws could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012. The states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012 – 63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency." And, "Of the 12 likely battleground states, as assessed by an August Los Angeles Times analysis of Gallup polling, five have already cut back on voting rights (and may pass additional restrictive legislation), and two more are currently considering new restrictions."

Attempted election tampering by Republicans seems even more deliberate in Ohio, where polls in Republican districts will be opened on nights and weekends for early voting, but will be closed during the same hours - only in Democratic districts.

On Tuesday, a Pennsylvania judge refused to halt a voter ID law that is estimated to block 1.4 million registered voters from voting.

Tampering with the outcome of elections through restrictive new voting laws is a frightening attack on American democracy. It further begs the question, where do the Republican attacks on free elections and democracy end?

Is the ultimate goal of Republicans to do away with free and fair elections altogether?

If voter ID laws do end up changing the outcome of the 2012 elections in favor of Republicans candidates, their majority power could be used to restrict freedom even more. With control of enough state legislatures, congress, and judicial seats, Republicans could amend the even more state laws, and conceivably amend the U.S. Constitution, striking down laws that have guided American democracy since its inception.

Without question, with more than five million legally registered voters disenfranchised, the benefits of any voter ID laws far outweigh the risks they pose to American freedom and the right to vote.

Voter ID laws are not working in the best interests of America when there are so many more unintended victims being hit beyond the target.

If you like to write about U.S. politics and Campaign 2012, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.


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