Dear Editor:

Republican initiatives requiring voters to have state approved photo IDs are not simply aimed at disenfranchising a predictable class of voters, they are aimed at fixing the upcoming election by disenfranchising voters. The catalyst for the movement comes from the right wing Koch Brothers, who’ve vowed to remove President Obama from the White House by any means necessary. The Koch funded American Legislative Exchange Council drafted the model legislation that many states are using to restrict pro-Obama voter turnout.

Their claim that the new voter ID laws are aimed at voter fraud has no more validity than Vladimir Putin’s claim that the U.S. is orchestrating mass protests in Russia or Bashar el Assad’s claim that a “foreign conspiracy” is behind the unrest in Syria. It’s obvious to any fair minded observer that the Republican plot to disenfranchise voters is an effort to predetermine the results of upcoming elections in the same way authoritarian regimes around the world have done.

Americans may recall that rigging elections is not new to Republicans.

They established the precedent in Florida in the contest between Al Gore and George W. Bush when thousands of innocent and eligible voters were scratched from the voter rolls and denied their constitutional right simply because their names and birthdays matched those of known felons. This allowed Republican Secretary of State Catherine Harris to cull the voter rolls of enough potential Democratic voters to award the victory to Bush by a mere 537 votes. The fact that Florida turned away many times that number of eligible voters has nearly been forgotten by the American public.

In response to the allegations against the community group ACORN the Bush Administration aggressively sought cases of voter fraud to prosecute as examples of a widespread epidemic. They found and convicted 70 people while Federal Election Commission records for 2006 show 80,454,673 valid votes were cast in that cycle. That’s a 0.000009 percent rate of substantiated voter fraud nationwide. The Republican National Lawyers Association found a grand total of 311 cases of voter fraud committed over more than a decade. David Iglesias, the Republican U.S. Attorney for New Mexico who was fired by the Bush administration, said that he looked at over 100 claims of alleged voter fraud but found not a single prosecutable case.

The Brenner Center for Justice at NYU Law School estimates that as many as 11 percent of eligible voters currently lack proper identification. For African-Americans that number is more than doubled at 25 percent. That translates into 5.5 million voting-age Black Americans who could get turned away at the polls for not having a state approved photographic ID.

While everyone agrees that every voter should demonstrate that they are who they say they are before casting a vote, no voters should be deprived of their Constitutional right by regressive laws. Election integrity can be assured without denying free and fair access to the polls that blocks millions of eligible American citizens from voting. The United States can’t be the world’s beacon of democracy by using tactics thugs and dictators have used for years.

Chuck Ardo

Camp Hill, Pa.

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