Did the suppression or lack of voter ID laws aid President Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney?
Obama did not win a single state that fully requires photo IDs to vote, although he was victorious in four states that accept non-photo identification – Washington, Colorado, Ohio and Virginia. Those states accept as legitimate identification current utility bills, bank statements and paychecks.
Obama won New Hampshire, which just enacted a new Voter ID law that eventually will require photo identification. That law is not being fully implemented until September 2013.
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In Tuesday's election, New Hampshire voters who did not have photo identification were still allowed to vote after executing what the state calls a challenged voter affidavit, meaning the voter fills out a form and receives a letter requesting confirmation of voting. If there is no response within a month, the state may investigate to determine if vote fraud occurred.
Obama also won in Michigan. By law, every Michigan voter must either present picture identification at the polls or sign an affidavit attesting that he or she is not in possession of picture identification.
In other words, in both New Hampshire and Michigan, voters do not need to present photo identification to cast a ballot.
Obama won several closely contested states that do not require any voter identification, including Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Wisconsin and Nevada.
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The states that Obama lost that do require photo identification do not traditionally vote Republican. Tennessee, for example, voted Democrat in the 1972, 1992 and 1996 presidential elections. Georgia, which also requires photo ID, voted Democrat in the 1976, 1980 and 1992 presidential elections.
In Colorado, where non-photo identification is accepted, a review by RedState.com showed irregular voting patterns, finding that 10 counties had a total registration ranging between 104 to 140 percent of the respective populations.
When Media Trackers requested comment on the voter bloat in one area, Gilpin County, the county’s chief deputy Gail Maxwell explained, “This is just a reminder Gilpin is a Gaming Community. The voters come and go!”
RedState notes records show some of the counties in question maintained statistically unusual voting figures. Gilpin County had a 61 percent voter turnout in the 2010 election, and Hinsdale County had an astounding 92 percent voter turnout. Those figures are far above the Colorado average turnout of 48 percent and the national average of 41 percent.
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In Pennsylvania, where Obama was victorious, an Oct. 2 ruling by a Pennsylvania judge put a voter ID law on hold, decreeing that election officials can still ask voters for photo identification but cannot require it.
Voter ID laws were entirely struck down in Texas and South Carolina. Romney carried both states.
WND previously reported a radical group that has a history of biased research provided data utilized in both cases that blocked the new voter ID laws.
The Brennan Center for Justice, heavily funded by billionaire activist George Soros, has been at the center of providing data claiming voter ID laws will disenfranchise minorities.
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However, WND reported the very voter ID data used by Brennan has been called into question by experts and has been contradicted by other credible studies and even by the group’s own footnotes in the one study it conducted.
The three-judge panel in the landmark Texas case, for example, ruled that evidence showed the cost of obtaining a voter ID would fall most heavily on poor African-Americans and Hispanics in Texas and that such groups would face discrimination if the law were to be applied.
It was the second time voter ID laws were shot down in the U.S. In December, the Justice Department rejected the South Carolina voter ID law, also citing purported evidence minorities would be disenfranchised by the requirement to show photo identification to cast a ballot. It marked the first time that a voting law was refused clearance by Justice in nearly 20 years.
The Justice Department and attorneys representing the NAACP and ACLU were behind the lawsuit in South Carolina arguing against voter ID.
WND has found the Brennan Center’s data played a central role in both the Texas and South Carolina cases.
That information was apparently incorporated in a letter from the Justice Department to Texas election officials requesting more information about the potential impact that the new photo ID requirement might have on minority voters.
After the Texas election commission replied, the Justice Department issued a final letter denying pre-clearance of voter ID laws. The letter mimicked the information provided to Justice by the Brennan center.
Brennan played a similar role in providing Justice with information used in the South Carolina case, according to documentation reviewed by WND.
The documentation includes the letterto the Department of Justice from the ACLU, the Brennan Center and the League of Women Voters of South Carolina.
WND also reviewed the Justice Department’s letters to the South Carolina attorney general’s office eventually denying pre-clearance of the voter ID laws, finding key information from Brennan incorporated in the documentation.
Brennan further provided the ACLU and NAACP with its data to use in the South Carolina and Texas arguments.
Voter ID data biased?
The Brennan Center is located at New York University School of Law. Its primary focus is so-called voting rights and creating a “living constitution” as well as pushing for a “living wage.”
In November 2006, the Brennan Center issued “Citizens Without Proof,” an extensive report that claimed voter ID policies will disfranchise millions of minority, elderly and low-income voters because those voting blocs are less likely to possess documentation than the general population.
The report is routinely cited by news media and activists seeking to prove voter ID is racist.
Also, the National Center for Public Policy Research notes that in its report on voter ID measures, the NAACP “relied heavily” on Brennan Center’s work.
In July, Politifact used the Brennan Center’s 2006 report to support Attorney General Eric Holder’s claim that 25 percent of African-Americans lack government-issued photo ID.
GroupSnoop.org, a website run by the National Center for Public Policy Research, recently posted a new profile of the Brennan Center that documents how its voter ID information is highly questionable and may be based on biased data.
In August 2011, Hans A. von Spakovsky and Alex Ingram of the Heritage Foundation critiqued the Brennan report, finding it is “both dubious in its methodology and results and suspect in its sweeping conclusions.”
According to the Heritage Foundation report, the Brennan Center used biased questioning to obtain its desired result concerning minority voters – a result that is actually contradicted by footnotes buried in the Brennan report itself.
“By eschewing many of the traditional scientific methods of data collection and analysis, the authors of the Brennan Center study appear to have pursued results that advance a particular political agenda rather than the truth about voter identification,” write Von Spakovsky and Ingram.
Heritage points out that the Brennan Center’s report was based entirely on one survey of only 987 “voting age American citizens.” However the report contained no information on how the survey determined whether a respondent was actually an American citizen.
Heritage found the Brennan survey used the responses of the 987 individuals to estimate the number of Americans without valid documentation based on the 2000 Census calculations of citizen voting-age population. Those Census figures, noted Heritage, “contain millions of U.S. residents who are ineligible to vote, thus contributing to the study’s overestimation of voters without a government-issued identification.”
Heritage charged the survey questions used in the Brennan Center’s report “are also suspect and appear to be designed to bolster the report’s biased findings.”
Brennan, for example, did not ask respondents whether they had government-issued IDs, but instead asked whether respondents had “readily available identification.”
“By asking whether such ID could be found ‘quickly’ or shown ‘tomorrow,’ the study seems to be trying to elicit a particular response: that those surveyed do not have ID,” noted Heritage.
The Brennan study is undermined by some of its own footnotes.
One footnote states that the survey "did not yield statistically significant results for differential rates of possession of citizenship documents by race, age, or other identified demographic factors.”
The footnote appears to contradict the very premise of the Brennan report.
Another footnote relates that 135 respondents “indicated that they had both a U.S. birth certificate and U.S. naturalization papers. This most likely indicates confusion on the part of the respondents.” In other words, Heritage notes, nearly 14 percent of the respondents provided contradictory answers.
The Brennan study further did not ask any of its participants whether they had student or tribal ID cards even though in some states, such as Arizona and Georgia, such cards are acceptable for the purpose of voting.
Heritage cited numerous studies that directly contradict the Brennan report – studies not widely cited by the news media in the voter ID debate.
The studies include:
- An American University survey in Maryland, Indiana and Mississippi found that less than one-half of 1 percent of registered voters lacked a government-issued ID. Therefore, the study correctly concluded that “a photo ID as a requirement of voting does not appear to be a serious problem in any of the states.”
- A 2006 survey of more than 36,000 voters found that only “23 people in the entire sample – less than one-tenth of one percent of reported voters” were unable to vote because of an ID requirement.
Besides receiving a reported $7.4 million from Soros’ Open Society Institute since 2000, the Brennan Center was also the recipient of grants from the Joyce Foundation from 2000 to 2003. President Obama served on the Joyce board from 1994 through 2002.
History of shoddy research
Brennan has a history of questionable research.
The center was at the heart of a national scandal in 2002 after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance act. The attorneys defending McCain-Feingold had reportedly based key portions of their case on research provided by the Brennan Center – research, Discover the Networks notes, that may have been “deliberately faked,” according to Weekly Standard Editor David Tell.
Tell quoted Brennan Center political scientist Jonathan Krasno admitting in his funding proposal to the Pew Charitable Trusts that the purpose of his group’s proposed study on campaign finance was for partisan political reasons.
Wrote Tell: “‘Issue Advocacy: Amassing the Case for Reform,’ dated Feb. 19, 1999, explained that ‘[the purpose of our acquiring the data set is not simply to advance knowledge for its own sake, but to fuel a continuous multi-faceted campaign to propel campaign reform forward.’ Dispassionate academic inquiry was so alien to the spirit of the thing that Brennan promised to suspend its work midstream, pre-publication, if the numbers turned out wrong. ‘Whether we proceed to phase two will depend on the judgment of whether the data provide a sufficiently powerful boost to the reform movement.’”
Tell claimed Brennan researchers “deliberately faked” their results.
With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott