If you tune in to MSNBC this week, there’s a good chance you’ll witness a mostly white panel wearing geek specs wringing their hands over North Carolina’s new voter ID law. When talking heads are not dropping buzz words like “racial discrimination” to criticize the policy, they scoff at the argument that voter fraud is a real issue for America to focus on.
Right now voter ID is polling at 83% approval, according to a McClatchy-Marist study. But even more fascinating is the broad demographic support for the election integrity policy. Although favorability is off the charts across all indicators, there are some narrative-busting trends. You’re more likely to support voter ID if you’re not white, make less than $50,000, and are female.
How can a policy like voter ID become so popular in our polarized culture? Trust in one another is dropping to zero. If voting is the great equalizer, voter ID is the insurance policy.
When Indiana’s law, the original voter ID, was challenged before the Supreme Court, Justice Stephens supported the idea of voter ID because no amount of fraud is acceptable. Since then, the Court has ruled in favor of promoting faith in electoral systems instead of waiting for an issue to reach epidemic levels before taking action.
Rational Americans inherently understand the threat of fraud – in all forms. They see the frailties in the system each time they go to vote. We remember the ACORN headlines. We remember the dramatic election of 2000. We grow up hearing local stories of organized crime stuffing ballot boxes. Our history books tell of corrupt political machines.
Despite our understanding of the risks of fraud, we are treated to a political class and media that attack anyone who dare counteract the problem. In 2008, the Organizing for America Chief Counsel requested that the Department of Justice investigate individuals who publicly discussed voter fraud. Last week the Maryland State Board of Elections sneered at a local citizen and argued that it had no duty to answer questions received about voter roll maintenance. This week, MSNBC attacked Politico for daring to quote True the Vote on election law reforms.
Why is this popular voter ID so “controversial”? It makes the jobs of political operatives that prey on a weak system more difficult. It also proves the privileged northeastern academics’ racial generalizations are wrong.
Above all, the popularity of voter ID demonstrates that even if you are a person of color or don’t make much money, you do not believe that you are incapable of taking responsibility for your vote.
Broad demographic support for voter ID is an existential threat to interest groups that have lined their pockets for decades by profiting from the social discord they themselves have sown. In the months ahead we will see these groups go all in to try and protect their power base by attempting to reverse this popular trend. Let them try. Americans are sick of the histrionics, and they’re choosing common sense over contrived conflict.
Catherine Engelbrecht is the Founder and President of True the Vote, America’s leading voters’ rights and election integrity organization.