My guest is long-time investigative journalist and election-watchdog, Brad "BradBlog" Friedman. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Brad. Today we're going to talk about the infamous Photo ID. Can you give us some background on that, please?
BF: As I've been covering it now for more than a decade (unfortunately, long before most Democrats even understood how they were being set up by Republicans for this monumental scam), which background are you looking for? The fact that the GOP has been pretending for years that there is an epidemic of voter fraud by Democrats that required polling place Photo ID to prevent?
The fact that the mainstream media has helped the GOP to pull off their monumental fraud by failing to report that it's a con, that there is little or no polling place voter impersonation (the only type of fraud that could even possibly be deterred by such Photo ID restrictions?) The fact that while the Republican Party enjoys pretending there are such cases of fraud, when pressed they can actually cite none? Or the fact that such laws violate both the federal Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution, which the same Republicans who support laws like this -- which could disenfranchise more than 21 million Americans, if enacted in all 50 states -- pretend to support?
There is, of course, much more. So you'll need to be specific.
JB: You have definitely been on top of this topic and we mindful voters are grateful for that coverage. Courts have upheld or dismissed the validity of Photo IDs in various cases over the years. Where do we stand at this very moment? How many states have Photo ID laws and how many voters and which voters are most at risk from these nonsensical and nondemocratic laws?
BF: In truth, the bulk of the courts who have looked at these laws in full trials have struck them down, though that hasn't kept folks like Greg Abbott in Texas and Scott Walker in Wisconsin from lying about what the courts have said.
There are nine states, at this point, that have either implemented, or attempted to implement strict polling place Photo ID restrictions. The majority of states already require ID when voting (and federal law already requires it when registering in all 50 states), but they allow for identification other than a very small set of state-issued Photo IDs that they know many legally registered (Democratic-leaning) American voters do not have.
For example, Wisconsin allows for concealed-carry weapons permits to be used as voting ID, but not all state-issued student IDs. Texas allows for active military Photo ID, but not veterans IDs. I suppose those who actually fought and died to protect democracy in this country can f*ck off if they want to vote in the state of Texas. (Though, luckily, the state's Photo ID law was just struck down last week by a federal court. It's about the fourth or fifth time, I've lost count, that the same Republican Photo ID law has been found illegal and unconstitutional by federal courts.)
In Wisconsin, the trial determined -- and the state did not contest -- that some 300,000 legally registered voters do not have the very narrow type of ID that would now be required to vote under their law. In Texas, the number was 600,000 at a minimum.
JB: That's huge!
BF: The even more shameful side of those numbers is that, all told, during the trial, Wisconsin was able to cite ZERO cases of voter impersonation that might have been deterred by their law, while Texas was only able to cite two over the last 15 years or so. In the Lone Star State's case, that was out of some 20 million votes cast during the same period, as determined during the full trial on the merits which wrapped up in late September.
JB: The Voter ID laws disproportionately target the elderly, the poor, students - all segments of the population which tend to vote Democratic. This goes to explain why Voter ID laws have been so attractive to Republicans. At some point a while back, there was a realization that demographics were not trending their way and this has led to various ruses to disenfranchise massive numbers of legal voters. Do you want to comment on that before we move on?
BF: Not really. Other than to say you're exactly right. Republicans seem to have given up on winning elections by, ya know, presenting better ideas to the electorate. So, rather than do that, their strategy now seems to be to lie the public into submission with propaganda and otherwise try to keep as many Democratic-leaning voters from voting as possible. (They're now trying to keep them from even being able to register, in Arizona, Kansas, Georgia, etc.) It's pretty awful. But, apparently, they must feel that's all they can do, at this point.
JB: Sigh. Judge Richard Posner was in the news last week. Who is he, what did he have to say and why was it so memorable?