Lauren Mayer: They Say Fraud Prevention; I Say Voter Suppression

(That title makes more sense if you hum it to the tune of the line, “You say either, and I say either”)

Within moments of the Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act, it seemed like every solidly red state jumped at the chance to reinstate the kinds of laws that the invalidated section of the act had kept in check.  Stringent ID requirements, cutting voting hours, eliminating polling places in predominantly Democrat-leaning neighborhoods, and refusing to let college students continue to vote in their state of residence.  (Which, by the way, is unconstitutional – there’s nothing in the residency requirement that says an address doesn’t count if it’s a dorm, frat house, or off-campus house no matter how many empty pizza boxes are in the kitchen.)  (Which, by the way, you’d think Tea Partiers would remember since they like to quote the constitution so often . . . but then again, homophobes who use the bible as their justification are good at conveniently forgetting the other things the bible forbids, such as mixing fabrics and getting tattoos, much less death penalty for cursing your parents or pulling out during intercourse . . . but I digress)

The speed with which southern states jumped into voter suppression after the decision prompted many people to use the analogy, ‘the body wasn’t even cold yet.’  It reminded me of the urban legend about savvy New Yorkers finding apartments by combing the obituaries.  But I was less offended by the speed than by the overkill.  There are a variety of studies of actual voter fraud, but the number of proven cases is between 10 and 15 – that’s from 2000 to 2010, with approximately 600 million votes cast during that time.  Meanwhile, there are multiple cases of politically-appointed state election commissioners going to great lengths to ‘cleanse’ the voting rolls, harrassing tens of thousands of people and winding up not finding more than a couple of cases – not of voter fraud or dead people voting, but typos and other clerical errors.  Changing voting requirements to prevent the rare case of fraud is like using a nuclear weapon to kill one cockroach in your kitchen.  (Mind you, I lived in a few rundown apartments in New York for 5 years and would have considered it, especially the night I was awakened by a noise in the kitchen and saw a foot-long tail coming out of a box of Rice Krispies . . . .but I digress)

Since claims of voter fraud are either incredibly inflated or just plain fraudulent, I decided to fraudulently turn from a suburban Jewish mom into a blues singer to complain about it.  (And as a result, I finally learned the word for that phenomenon when you say a somewhat unusual word over and over again, like ‘kidney’ or ‘detrimental,’ and it starts to sound weird and lose its meaning . . . check out the song to find out!)


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