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Portland, Oregon

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Nick Kahl
Nick Kahl
Attorney • (800) 905-4676

The second coming of Jim Crow: the myth of voter identity fraud

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The thing that’s different from the days of Jim Crow is the phony pretext of combating voter fraud. Voter identity fraud is all but nonexistent, but the assertion that it might exist is used as an excuse to reduce the political rights of minorities, the poor, students, the elderly and any other group that tends to vote Democratic.”

Today, the New York Times editorial board called out the Koch Brothers-funded voter suppression group True the Vote for what they are: the second coming of Jim Crow. As the editorial states, voter fraud is a “pretext” for bigotry and harassment, because as News21 reported, voter fraud is not actually a problem in America.

I was happy to see the editorial cite the Demos/Common Cause report Bullying at the Ballot Box. The report identifies the way in which the election laws of 10 key states—Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia—are being manipulated (and in some instances, amended) to systematically suppress the votes of minority groups and the working poor.

Hopefully, the Times editorial will bring wider attention to the systematic voter suppression efforts at work this election cycle. Americans need to recognize what is happening in order to fight back against the bigotry, harassment and voter suppression discussed in this important report. (The Times also recently published an in depth review of True the Vote that is worth reading.)

Broadly, voter suppression efforts break down into two categories: pre-election day purges, and election day harassment. Thankfully, some of the efforts to purge voter rolls have been successfully thwarted in Florida and Texas. Yet, there are other efforts underway to otherwise disenfranchise swing state voters right now. And Pennsylvania’s voter identification law’s constitutionality is still an open question.

But the real battle is election day at the ballot box. As Bullying at the Ballot Box makes clear, harassment at the ballot box is a real risk for many Americans. Not only does that type of persecution disenfranchise those that are harassed, it also causes intentional delays that disenfranchise scores more voters.

Everyone needs to take this threat seriously, and those who know the law have the obligation to lead the way. I call on every lawyer who has the means to make an effort to get to a swing state and monitor the polls.