This column by ACRU Policy Board Member Hans von Spakovsky was published April 3, 2016 by USA Today.
Polls consistently show that Americans — regardless of race or ethnicity — agree that requiring identification to vote is a common-sense way to ensure the integrity of our elections. The repeated narrative pushed by critics that this “suppresses” votes is a myth.
That claim has been disproven by the turnout results in states such as Georgia and Indiana, whose voter ID laws have been in place for years. In fact, these states experienced almost no problems despite apocalyptic predictions of opponents. The number of Americans who don’t already have an ID is minuscule — and every state with a voter ID law gives a free ID to anyone who can’t afford one.
Opponents who say there is no voter fraud are wrong. As the Supreme Court noted in 2008 when it upheld Indiana’s photo ID law, we have a long, documented history of voter fraud in this country — and it could make the difference in a close election. That is why states should also be requiring proof-of-citizenship to register to prevent non-citizens from illegally voting.
Critics also complain about reductions in early voting, claiming that reduces turnout. But studies show that early voting could actually reduce turnout. This might be because get-out-the-vote efforts by campaigns that get diffused over a much longer period of time are not as effective.
In the final weeks before an election, previously unknown information about a candidate could come out that might be important to a voter’s choice, but a voter who cast her ballot early cannot change it. Because Arizona has early voting, almost 100,000 Arizonans wasted their votes for candidates who were in the Republican presidential primary race when early voting started but had dropped out by Election Day on March 22.
The right to vote is one of our most cherished. Securing the integrity of the election process is a fundamental requirement of protecting that right.