Opponents of voter identification legislation consistently contend that it proposes a solution to a non-problem. President Barack Obama, during a speech at Al Sharpton's Action Network Conference in New York City on Friday, put it this way: "Let's be clear. The real voter fraud is people who try to deny our rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud."
And U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told MSNBC early this year that voter fraud "simply does not exist to the extent that would warrant these kinds of measures."
But the folks at the North Carolina State Board of Elections have offered fresh evidence that a significant amount of voter fraud does exist.
On April 2, The Raleigh News & Observer reported that officials from that agency told state lawmakers "they have identified hundreds, and potentially thousands, of voters who may have cast ballots in two states in the 2012 general election."
That conclusion was the result of cross-checking voting records from 28 states, including North Carolina. The process found that 765 voters whose first and last names, birth dates of birth and final four digits of their Social Security numbers matched exactly with a voter registered in another state and who voted in both states in 2012.
That might not sound like much in the Tar Heel State, where more than 4.4 million votes were cast in the 2012 presidential general election.
Then again, George W. Bush won Florida - and thus the White House - by a mere 537 votes in 2000.
The North Carolina investigation of the 2012 election also found 35,750 voters with matching names and birth dates who voted in that state and another state.
Yes, further investigation is required to determine the true extent of 2012 voter fraud in North Carolina - and beyond.
And yes, 2013 allegations about 2012 voting fraud in South Carolina, including nationally aired contentions from state Attorney General Alan Wilson, were eventually shown to be vastly overstated.
But that doesn't mean wide-scale voter fraud isn't a real threat to the integrity of the electoral process.
For instance, the New York Daily News reported three months ago that during last fall's municipal election, city investigators "posed as 63 voters from a list of people made ineligible by felony convictions, moving away, or - yes - dying." Yet "in about 97 percent of the cases, poll workers let the undercover agents vote."
Government's perplexing failure to take common-sense measures against illegal voting undermines the legal right to vote.
In 21st century America, you generally must have a photo ID to open a bank account, check into a motel, get a library card, buy certain types of sinus medication, board an airliner and conduct assorted other lawful transactions.
So why shouldn't election officials ask for a photo ID to verify that the person voting is the legal voter he or she presumes to be?
Why can't lawmakers in all states, including this one, strike a reasonable balance between assuring fair access to voting and a fair count of only lawful votes?
And why, in a modern world beset by proliferating forms of identity fraud, would anybody believe that a significant amount of voter fraud "simply does not exist"?
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