October 1, 2012; Source: America

Last week, we took note of a courageous editorial in America, the national Catholic weekly magazine, that drew a comparison between the U.S. attempting to avoid responsiblility for using torture in recent military conflicts and the attempt by some in the Catholic Church to avoid responsibility for failing to stop instances of sexual abuse on the part of priests. America’s editorials seem to aim at pulling no punches, so we also took note of the magazine’s commentary on voter ID laws.

America suggests that the type of voter-impersonation fraud that would be addressed by voter photo ID laws is “virtually nonexistent.” The editors write, “over the past 12 years, Americans have cast hundreds of millions of votes in local, state and national elections. Did you know that in this same time period there have been only 10 alleged cases of in-person voter impersonation?” The 375 instances of alleged election fraud identified by the Republican National Lawyers Association resulted in only 33 convictions or guilty pleas, and none of the cases involved voter impersonation.

America isn’t not blind to problems with our electoral process and offers this one cogent paragraph of needed changes: “Measures are necessary to reduce fraudulent absentee ballots. Polling stations should be carefully monitored so that voters are not unfairly turned away without an opportunity to cast even a provisional ballot. There should be more uniform electoral processes across the 13,000 voting precincts in the United States; Election Day should be a mandatory national holiday to make it easier for people to vote; and there should be a federal constitutional amendment to protect the right to vote for all citizens.”

It is heartening to see such a clear-eyed call for an end to the relentless push for voter ID laws that are all but unnecessary and counterproductive. –Rick Cohen