Activist James O’Keefe looks and sounds nothing like Attorney General Eric Holder.
Yet when O’Keefe presented himself at a polling place in Washington, D.C., and said he was Holder, there were no questions asked.
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Despite never being asked, O’Keefe, a white man then in his late 20s, told the poll worker he had forgotten his identification.
"You don't need it. It's all right," the poll worker responded.
"As long as you're in here you're on our list, and that's who you say you are, you're OK," the election worker told O'Keefe, who leads the group Project Veritas, which repeatedly has exposed questionable and illegal practices by election workers.
That was more than two years ago.
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But in the upcoming 2014 midterm elections, O’Keefe – or anybody else for that matter – would still not need any form of ID to vote as Holder in the nation's capital or in more than a dozen states.
That is due in part to the efforts of the Justice Department under Holder, who continues to insist that voter ID laws are both unneeded and discriminatory.
"Look, millions and millions of people recognize my face from being dressed as a pimp, yet I was offered the ballot of then-United States Attorney General Eric Holder," O’Keefe told WND this week about the sting, which made headlines.
"Holder says that in-person voter fraud doesn’t exist – as did former DNC Chair Donna Brazile in a heated Twitter exchange last week, where she called allegations of voter fraud 'a big a-- lie,'" O'Keefe continued.
"Progressives keep burying their heads in the sand on the voter ID issue to the point of absolute absurdity," he said. "Even if I went to a polling place claiming to be Donna Brazile and was handed her ballot, they'd still refuse to acknowledge that there is any problem with the system."
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Identification across America
While O'Keefe did not need an ID to vote as Obama's attorney general and leading anti-voter ID crusader, he did need identification to visit the Justice Department later to chat about the issue.
Other activities that require ID include driving, boarding an airplane, banking, buying medicine, visiting the doctor, applying for a job, going to school, signing up for utilities at home, buying a car, purchasing insurance, borrowing a library book, renting a house, traveling abroad, pawning something, writing a check, donating blood, obtaining many types of welfare, going to court, applying for a professional license, using credit cards, purchasing or renting a car, walking into many government buildings and buying alcohol, tobacco or firearms.
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Though the courts have been largely unsympathetic to the argument so far, requiring ID for those activities is not typically considered racist or discriminatory.
A taxpayer-funded expert witness for the Justice Department, however, recently argued that blacks are "less sophisticated" than whites and are therefore more likely to be prevented from voting if a state election-integrity law that includes voter ID remains in place.
So, with Holder at the helm, the Department of Justice has sued multiple state governments – sometimes successfully, generally not – for trying to ensure election integrity using voter ID.
Several states, including Ohio, Wisconsin and North Carolina, still are fighting the Justice Department in the courts.
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Despite Holder's best efforts, though, the Supreme Court recently upheld an appeals court decision overturning a lower federal court that ruled against the state of Texas' 2011 voter ID law.
The high court decision, delivered Oct. 18, rejected the Justice Department's argument, at least for now.
That means voters in Texas will need to present one of seven types of approved ID, including concealed firearm permits, to cast a ballot this election.
"It is a major step backward to let stand a law that a federal court, after a lengthy trial, has determined was designed to discriminate," Holder complained after the Supreme Court decision. "It is true that we are close to an election, but the outcome here that would be least confusing to voters is the one that allowed the most people to vote lawfully."
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In Wisconsin, meanwhile, despite the efforts of lawmakers and citizens, voters will not need an ID to vote after the Supreme Court blocked that state's voter ID law pending a court case.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks the latest developments on voter ID, 34 states currently have laws on the books requiring some form of identification for voting.
In at least three of those, the laws will not be in effect this election.
The laws vary widely from state to state, with some requiring photo ID while others only require a non-photo ID that could include, for example, a bank statement.
Some of the laws are considered "strict" because voting without ID requires the voter to take additional steps for the ballot to be counted. Others are described as "non-strict," because voters without ID can still vote without having to take further action by, for instance, signing an affidavit.
In the 19 states that will not require ID on Nov. 4, other means – checking signatures, for example – are supposedly used to ensure that voters are who they say they are.
States with no ID requirement include California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Maryland.
Election experts who spoke with WND pointed to Kansas as a pioneering state in ensuring the integrity of the ballot box.
With a few narrow exceptions, voters in Kansas must show photo ID to cast a ballot under the 2011 Kansas Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) Act.
In an effort to crack down on fraud using mail-in ballots, the law also requires voters to provide either a copy of their ID or a full Kansas driver's license number to vote by mail.
Since 2013, the state has required proof of U.S. citizenship for those registering to vote for the first time.
Opposition to Voter ID
According to polls released this summer, voter ID remains extraordinarily popular among registered voters in every demographic, including majority support among Democrats and black Americans.
Overall, 70 percent of respondents in a Fox News poll said they support voter ID.
The Obama administration, however, has consistently opposed voter ID. Along with a coalition of liberal and race-focused groups, his Justice Department has largely led the charge against the efforts in recent years.
WND reached out to the DOJ, the NAACP and the Democratic National Committee for comment on their opposition to voter ID laws. None had responded at the time of this report.
In the past, however, the administration and its anti-ID allies have relied on several primary arguments.
Chief among the claims is the notion that laws requiring ID to vote disproportionately affect poor and minority voters, who are more likely to vote Democrat.
More than a few supporters of voter ID laws and election integrity measures, though, have argued that the argument really boils down to racism: the notion that blacks are less capable than whites.
As if to confirm that, the Justice Department, using U.S. taxpayer dollars, recently hired an expert witness to testify against voter ID in North Carolina.
The witness, political scientist Charles Stewart III, essentially argued that black voters are "less sophisticated" than whites and are, therefore, less likely to vote if measures are taken to ensure election integrity.
"[P]eople who register to vote the closer and closer one gets to Election Day tend to be less sophisticated voters, tend to be less educated voters, tend to be voters who are less attuned to public affairs," Stewart testified. "People who correspond to those factors tend to be African-Americans."
Earlier this month, however, Obama acknowledged that voter ID laws were not the main reason minority voters were not showing up at the polls.
"Most of these laws are not preventing the overwhelming majority of folks who don't vote from voting," Obama said during an interview with Rev. Al Sharpton. "Most people do have an ID. Most people do have a driver's license. Most people can get to the polls.
"The bottom line is, if less than half of our folks vote, these laws aren't preventing the other half from not voting," Obama continued. "The reason we don't vote is because people have been fed this notion that somehow it's not going to make a difference. And it makes a huge difference."
Another key argument advanced by opponents of voter ID is the claim that electoral fraud is rare to nonexistent.
"There is no proof that our elections are marred by in-person voter fraud," Holder said. "Solutions that have been proposed go to things that do not exist – a problem that does not exist."
Others disagree. When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana's voter ID law in 2008, for example, Justice John Paul Stevens pointed to "flagrant examples of such fraud" throughout American history.
"Not only is the risk of voter fraud real," the justice continued, "it could affect the outcome of a close election."
Support for Voter ID
The nonprofit government watchdog group Judicial Watch has been at the forefront of trying to ensure the integrity of elections, from battles in the courtroom to the realm of public opinion.
On Oct. 27, the organization announced that as part of its Election Integrity Project, a former DOJ attorney would lead a pilot effort to station volunteers and attorneys at New Hampshire polling places.
The goal: to deter fraud and ensure that laws are respected – particularly voter ID requirements.
In a phone interview with WND, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said voter ID is an important element of secure elections.
"It is common sense that voter ID and photo ID can help ensure the integrity of elections, and encourage people to vote, because the results will be more secure and people will know that their votes will count," he explained.
"Opponents of voter ID dishonestly play the race card and pretend that it will suppress minority turnout, but there's no credible evidence of that," he added.
Pointing to Obama, Fitton said "this is a president that benefited from voter fraud to obtain his nomination."
"The left wants the ability to steal elections," Fitton said, noting leftist opposition to voter ID laws.
"When you match that up with the administration's effort to bring illegal aliens into the U.S., they want them to be able to vote, but voter ID gets in the way," he added. "Obama’s lawless amnesty is definitely a part of this."
Indeed, a recent study by professors at Old Dominion University, using survey data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, revealed that almost 6.5 percent of non-citizens voted illegally in the 2008 presidential election.
The survey also shows that 80 percent of non-citizens vote for Democrats.
On Oct. 21, Judicial Watch pointed to a letter suggesting that the North Carolina NAACP was planning to mislead members of the group in an effort to deliberately fabricate confusion on Election Day and bolster the argument against voter ID in the current legal battle between Holder and the state over election integrity.
Fitton lambasted the plot.
"The North Carolina NAACP is trying to sow confusion on Election Day in order to support their argument that voter ID laws sow confusion," he told WND.
"It's 'Alice in Wonderland' logic, but it's being put out there by the left and their allies, most powerful among them are the Justice Department and Eric Holder himself," Fitton added.
Other Recent Vote fraud
Also in late October, the work of Project Veritas, which helped bring down ACORN, led to yet another scandal on potential vote fraud.
This time it was in Colorado, where an extremely tight race for a U.S. Senate seat could tip the balance of power in that body. This year's election in Colorado will be conducted almost entirely by mail-in ballots.
In a newly released video, Project Veritas' O'Keefe brings up the issue of filling out unused ballots and mailing them in to support Democrat candidates.
"That is not even like lying or something. If someone throws out a ballot, like, if you want to fill it out, you should do it," responds Meredith Hicks, director of the Democrat Super PAC-funded group Work for Progress.
She then proceeded to offer O'Keefe a job with the organization, which boasts that it is working hard to re-elect Democrat Sen. Mark Udall.
Next, a Project Veritas investigator is shown talking with Greenpeace operative Christina Topping.
The undercover investigator suggests that he has access to a large number of ballots that will not be used by eligible voters – and that could be fraudulently filled out to help deliver the Senate to Democrats.
"I mean, it is putting the votes to good use," Topping says in the video. "So really, truly, like yeah, that is awesome."
The paid Greenpeace activist also points the Project Veritas operative to "ghetto Aurora," where the "lower class" of "African-Americans and Mexicans" lives, so he can find more unused ballots to fraudulently use in support of Udall. Topping even proposed a good intersection for the purpose.
If Colorado had a voter ID law such as the SAFE Act in Kansas for mail-in ballots, such fraud would be much harder to perpetrate, elections experts say.
"Everybody who is entitled to vote should be able to get a vote – one vote," said Stephen Gordon, a spokesman for O’Keefe's Project Veritas.
"Especially when you have a race that's decided by a few votes, problematic ballots can make all the difference in the world," he told WND in a phone interview. "That is why it's so important that we maintain the integrity of the electoral system.
"If James O’Keefe can go in and get video of himself being offered the ballot of Eric Holder, just imagine how easy it would be for some concerted political effort to undermine the vote – how easy it would be for political professionals to do that," he added.
When asked about the motivations of those opposing voter ID laws, Gordon said he was unsure.
"I usually get where my political opposition is coming from on issues, but on this, I just don't get it, so I would have to speculate a little," he said.
Ensuring integrity of elections
One of the most prominent organizations that has emerged in recent years to deal with what experts say is a major issue – election integrity – is True the Vote.
In an interview with WND, True the Vote Communications Director Logan Churchwell said that the issue is important regardless of how much voter fraud is actually taking place.
"Voter ID is needed now more than ever," he explained. "There is a growing concern that people don't feel their vote is protected."
When asked about how common voter fraud might be, Churchwell said that was the wrong question.
"The real question is: As a country, are we going to continue legislating by crisis?" he asked. "It's not about how rampant; it’s about how popular these measures are."
There is another key issue, too, he said. "The question is not how much fraud is there; it is how much fraud is too much? One case is too much for us."
The discussion on election integrity, though, should not revolve around just proven cases of fraud.
"Voter ID is necessary because the American public wants it," he continued, saying that voter ID was "even more popular than voting itself" based on surveys and election turnout data.
The issue needs to be viewed in terms of confidence in the election system, Churchwell said.
"So, as a country, we need to decide: Should we wait until this becomes a huge, obvious problem, or do we want to do this before then?" he asked. "We're the only Western nation that doesn't have such laws on the books.
"Voter confidence and voter participation are entwined," Churchwell said, citing data. "That's why these win in the courts. If you look at the polling, a majority of every single demographic – with high margins – supports this."
Opponents of voter ID laws and other measures to protect election integrity try to inject a "racial narrative" into the debate, he explained.
"But the reality is our citizens, irrespective of race, are worried about the voting system," said Churchwell, citing polls showing broad support across all demographics for voter ID.
Ironically, if anything, the bigotry in the debate comes from those opposing voter ID under the guise of minority voting.
"If you drill down into the court cases and look at the core case that the Justice Department makes, True the Vote has firmly believed for years that the guiding concern was due to soft bigotry of low expectations toward minority voters," Churchwell said, adding that the real opposition to voter ID was coming largely from "white, upper-class, progressive groups."
Citing the DOJ expert witness who called blacks "less sophisticated," Churchwell said the suspicions had been confirmed.
"Never before have we seen this kind of bigotry laid out in the open like this," he said. "Now they're just going out and saying it: Blacks are less sophisticated than whites, and this will confuse them."
"That's how desperate they're getting," the communications chief added.
Churchwell said that the states should adopt voter ID laws based on the demands of their own citizens and each state’s individual needs.
"Not every state will have voter ID," he said. "True the Vote hopes to see states bringing in voter ID laws based on the demands of their own citizens. No two need to be the same."
In fact, having states adopting "carbon copies" of other states' election integrity laws could even be counterproductive, "because each state needs to tailor its own, to help avoid problems that could have been otherwise avoided."
Voter ID laws in highly urbanized states, for instance, would probably look much different than the laws of a mostly rural state.
To help ensure the integrity of the upcoming midterm elections, True the Vote is also organizing a variety of programs.
To be successful, the organization is equipping voters themselves with the tools they need to secure honest elections.
"We as an organization encourage people who live in voter ID states who aren't asked for ID to know about resources that are available, and True the Vote is that resource," he said.
In the event of suspicious activity or other problems, the group is encouraging voters to go to the organization's website and fill out the appropriate form. From there, True the Vote will ensure that it gets to the "right people."
"We want to collect as much information as possible and then pass it on to appropriate authorities, and also to study that data and find out how common this is," Churchwell told WND.
"There are lots of questions that we can't answer yet," he acknowledged. "That's why we encourage people to contact us and we'll find out what's going on, follow up, and try to make sure it doesn't happen again."
When asked about the best ways of ensuring election integrity, Churchwell said the answer was actually "pretty straightforward."
"We need to stop relying on others to provide it for us," he argued, saying that is why True the Vote came into being.
There have long been cases of voters seeing fraud, hearing about fraud and more. Now, he said, they have resources to deal with it.
"That's why this is an ongoing citizen campaign, separate from the political parties," Churchwell explained, adding that the organization exists to support all voters – not just particular demographics or groups as has traditionally been the case.
"The question is, what are you going to do?" he asked. "We train people to become poll monitors. Come join us and become part of the solution. If you're worried about something in your community, we're there to help you help yourself. That’s our core focus."
Still, much more work is needed to guarantee that Americans have full confidence that elections across the nation are free and fair.
"If it makes logical sense, it's probably not election law," Churchwell concluded, apparently only half-joking.