State power vs. voters

In 2008, we ran an editorial observing, “You don’t rig an election by mobilizing voters to cast illegal votes. You rig an election at the counting end.”

At this year’s Legislature, however, Republicans are pushing requirements for voters to present identification in order to vote instead of paying attention to real voter fraud. So the emergence of just such a case in Mineral County comes at a propitious time.

Ed Pearce of KOLO News has reported—and he appears to be the only one to report it—that more than 170 Mineral County uncounted votes from the 2014 election have turned up. U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden is investigating and the American Civil Liberties Union is taking an interest in what appears to be an appallingly casual treatment of ballots.

This is an actual case of voter fraud, so it is not something that would have been prevented by voters presenting identification. And so far, Republicans in the Legislature are studiously ignoring it, even as they pledge fealty to protecting the vote through identification requirements. Their interest is obviously not in legal and protected elections or they would be all over what has happened in Mineral County, which reportedly could change the result of three different races.

Let’s face it—voter identification has nothing to do with reform. It is a way of making it more difficult for those who are less likely to own cars and thus have driver licenses—the elderly and the poor—to vote. It’s no coincidence that those groups tend to vote Democratic. Republicans are trying to rig elections through the use of election laws.

Nevadans must present identification when they register to vote. After that, the real problem is getting them to vote at all—Nevada has notoriously low turnout—and the Republicans want one more way of discouraging voters they do not trust.

It’s significant that Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a supporter as a state legislator of voter identification requirements, has hired as a consultant former Carson City clerk recorder Alan Glover. His duties in the clerk recorder’s job included the duty of conducting elections. We once interviewed him about whether he had ever seen any voter fraud by individual voters (“The fraud of voter fraud,” Oct. 25, 2012). He remembered a single case from all his years in office:

“Had a little lady, I think it was four years ago. … She was 87 years old with Alzheimer’s, and they didn’t find out until Thanksgiving when her granddaughter and her daughter were at the table: ’No, I took Grandma to early votes.’ ’Well, I took her down on Election Day.’”

Such anecdotes are the only evidence of voter fraud by individual voters. There is no evidence showing wide or broad voter fraud on the voters’ side of the table.

Moreover, it is the right of every citizen to vote and government should not get in the way. For Republicans to invoke state power to discourage voting in the absence of evidence of a problem needing solution is hardly a conservative stance. They seem to love government when it can be employed politically.