Protecting the franchise

The Next Right’s Soren Dayton doesn’t think that liberals are terribly interested in preventing voter/registration fraud:

Now I am sure that Josh Marshall or other people at TPM would be happy to say that they want the typical list of lefty election law goals including same day registration, either a curtailing or abandoning of all photo ID requirements, validation of citizenship, felon voting, etc.

I would be curious to know what guarantees to the integrity of the franchise they would propose rather than to just wipe away any and all protections in the law. Some of us in America believe that this happens. I grew up in Chicago, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence and, every once in a while, convictions.

Of course, each of these proposals is part of a broader effort to create a national system of voting procedures.  Indeed, to that effect, many liberals also support automatic voter registration (where you are automatically registered to vote upon turning 18), and a national voter database, where those registrations are stored and updated.  If there is accurate, readily available information about the number of voters, then there really isn’t any need for the patchwork of laws designed to “protect” elections (and which often end up as justifications for massive voter purges).  Besides, with regards to items Dayton lists, liberals don’t support them out of some nefarious desire to see elections compromised.  No, we support them out of the recognition that often these laws disenfranchise significant swaths of the population.  For example, it’s well known that felon disenfranchisement laws have an overwhelmingly disproportionate impact on African-Americans.

– Jamelle


Jamelle Bouie is a writer for Slate. He has also written for The Daily Beast, The American Prospect and The Nation. His work centers on politics, race, and the intersection of the two.

You can find him on Twitter, Flickr, and Instagram as jbouie.
  • His argument for stricter requirements for voting is that there’s ‘anecdotal evidence’ for fraud? Even the guy arguing for Indiana’s voter I.D. law before the Supreme Court last year said there had been no evidence of voter fraud.

    Re: the voter purges: the Obama camp has hired an army of lawyers to challenge any attempts at mass purges. Let’s hope they’re not needed for anything other than due diligence.