Politics / Top Stories

Voter ID laws stir up controversy on the left, right

Fears of voter fraud are the forces behind new voter identification laws being passed by states around the country, but some say those fears are overplayed.

States such as Georgia, Kansas, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have passed controversial laws that require eligible voters to show photo ID at the polling place in order to vote, in an effort to cut down on voter fraud. Other states, including Michigan, request photo ID but are not required. In Michigan, if a voter does not have a photo ID, the voter must sign a form saying they are not in possession of ID.

Some critics say voter fraud is an overblown issue and is being used as an excuse to disenfranchise the poor and minorities.

Political Science Professor James Hill said voter fraud certainly exists but is overplayed.

“There is certainly some degree of voter fraud in any situation,” Hill said. “The question becomes ‘Do you want to disenfranchise the many to get the few?’ Unfortunately, it would appear that the motives of some who claim voter fraud is a huge threat to our democracy mask their real intentions, which have a more partisan purpose.”

Political Science Department Chairman Orlando Perez agreed.

“The fact is that these moves to establish ID laws are aimed at reducing turnout among minority populations or among students,” Perez said. “They are driven by the Republican Party in order to reduce turnout of traditionally Democratic groups.”

Nine states have either passed new voter ID laws or tightened existing ones since the beginning of last year, though the U.S. Justice Department has rejected two of them, in South Carolina and in Texas, saying they place an unnecessary burden on minority voters.

A 2007 report by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School found “it is more likely to be struck by lightening than that (a voter) will impersonate another voter at the polls.” It also found voter fraud cases in Michigan “would amount to a rate at most of 0.0027 percent.”

The report showed states with ID laws had the lowest voter turnout rates in the country.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, disputed the Brennan study, saying it is “clear in its intentions, fuzzy in its methodology and wrong in its conclusions. Such doomsday predictions of widespread disfranchisement are increasingly being exposed as untrue as more legitimate research is performed and reported.”

Similarly, a study conducted by the University of Delaware and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found “concerns about voter-identification laws affecting turnout are much ado about nothing.”


  1. Michmediaperson says:

    Why does CM LIFE always interview 2 liberals in any political story—-Hill and Perez.

    How about 2 conservatives?

    If we don’t have any conservatives on CMU’s faculty—-then can I represent the right.

    Once again, Hill and Perez are wrong.  In fact, these two guys need to quit taking their talking points from the Democrats, Jesse Jackson, League of Liberal Women Voters and Sharpton….and start doing their research.  They need to do some research and find out what midwest state does NOT notify elections officials when that states DMV obtains their former resident’s drivers license from the new state.  I found out about this midwest state doing this last year.  Jim and Orlando, do a little leg work.  It will change your opinion.

    If we don’t have photo ID, Michigan voters can register to vote in Indiana, Ohio, other states and no one will ever catch them.

    With a photo ID driver’s license, there is no doubt who the person is.  For those who don’t drive, they can go their local county clerk and have a photo ID taken free of charge.

    To Hill and Perez, you mean CMU students don’t need a photo ID to buy booze??  To get a job??  These days to get a job may require a birth certificate, social security card and picture ID.  If any young person wants to fly, then they will need photo ID.  That’s just an excuse so the Left can vote twice.  You mean minorities don’t need a photo ID to get a job???  Again, if they’re under 30, to buy booze???  To cash a check requires a photo ID.

    The Left wants voter fraud like down in Chicago.

    It is so easy to be registered in more than one state for voting, it’s not even funny. 

    Now, the Brennan Report.  This is how dumb these people are.  If you leave Michigan for another state and that state doesn’t notify Michigan you’ve moved, you’re going to be counted as not voting in Michigan because you’re still on the voter rolls.  So, if I’m registered in Mt. Pleasant, move to Florida, Texas, Arizona, Ohio and that state doesn’t send back my driver’s license to Michigan, I’m now registered to vote in two states.  Since I know Michigan is photo ID, I don’t want to risk a jail sentence.  But, the Michigan voter turnout percentages will go down.  So, it blows Brennan’s theory.

    Without photo ID, there will be massive voter fraud.  It will not be by minorities or the young.  I think it would probably be the unions.  Because you need $$$ to get an out-of-state license.

    To Hill and Perez, if you ever want to have a Griffin School forum, then let me know.  I will show you how easy it is to be registered to vote in 2-3-4 states.  I’ll prove you wrong!!!

    CM LIFE, when do I start as your conservative go-to person on political stories?

    • “Reality has a well known liberal bias,” said Stephen Colbert. That’s why you can’t find many conservative professors – because professors are SMART.

    • Chris Davis says:

      With all due respect, MMP, given the volume and consistent nature of your posts, I think you’ve appointed yourself to the position of “go-to person on political stories” already.

  2. Yes, I believe we should have a photo ID to vote.  We have to have them for everything else, to board a plane, to drive a car, to write a check, or to pick up a prescription.  It’s not racist in any way shape or form to insist on a picture ID to vote.

  3. This is a solution in search of a problem to justify it. There is not evidence that voter fraud is more than a miniscule issue. There is not a shred of a doubt that it will suppress the minority vote and that is the real reason behind the Republican effort to push for voter ID’s. All these reports about it having only a very minor effect on voter turnout may be true when taken as a whole, but that effect will not likely be so minor on the poor and elderly who don’t drive and aren’t very mobile. These individuals have just as much right to vote as the highly mobile. If you need evidence of what can occur when we add roadblocks to voting just take a look at FL which Bush won with only a small percent of difference. There was lots of evidence of voter intimidation in FL, more than enough to have changed the outcome in FL and that would have changed the outcome nationwide. That fact is not lost on the right. Time to wake up and see what really is at stake!

  4. Interview two leftist professors and no conservatives? C’mon. And Professor Hill should no better. We live in a republic; not a democracy.  Also, why wasn’t the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School identified as a liberal group in the article?

  5. Here’s a link to a piece that explains very well what the real problem is all about: 


    I agree with Robert that ID laws are a “solution” in search of a problem. The issue of outdated registration lists, because of people moving or dying, and not being removed, has nothing to do with lack of ID and will not be solved by people showing IDs! The solution is for Michigan or any other state to invest money on reviewing their registration information.

    Btw: the problem with the ID laws that were struck down by the Justice Department is that they limited the type of IDs people could use. For example, the Texas law allowed gun registry ID but not a student ID! The state ID cost money to acquire. And the law essentially excluded people from voting w/o the IDs. While Michigan does require an ID, people are not barred from voting if they do not have an ID:

    “Michigan does have a voter identification requirement at the polls. Voters are
    asked to present an acceptable photo ID such as a Michigan driver’s license or
    identification card. Please note that voters who do not have an acceptable form
    of ID or failed to bring it with them to the polls still can vote. They simply
    sign a brief affidavit stating that they’re not in possession of a photo ID.
    Their ballots are included with all others and counted on Election Day.” http://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,1607,7-127-1633_11619-123989–,00.html.

    Finally, buying booze, renting a car, flying on planes are not constitutionally protected rights. You cannot impose a monetary requirement for people to exercise a constitutional right!!

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