(The great majority of democracies require voter ID. The most notable exception is the United States where most citizens want voter ID. All Republicans want voter ID, and so do many Democrats. Who does not want voter ID? That would be almost exclusively apparatchiks of the Democrat Party.
(The following guest post was written by John R. Lott Jr. He received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from UCLA and has held research or teaching positions at the University of Chicago, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, Yale University, and Rice University. He has written for many publications including The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times.)
Sixteen years ago, in 2005, the Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform issued a report that proposed a uniform system of requiring a photo ID in order to vote in U.S. elections.
The report also pointed out that widespread absentee voting makes vote fraud more likely. Voter files contain ineligible, duplicate, fictional, and deceased voters, a fact easily exploited using absentee ballots to commit fraud. Citizens who vote absentee are more susceptible to pressure and intimidation. And vote-buying schemes are far easier when citizens vote by mail.
Who was behind the Carter-Baker Commission? Donald Trump? Ted Cruz? No. The commission’s two ranking members were former President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, and former Secretary of State James Baker III, a Republican.
Other Democrats on the commission were former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton. It was a truly bipartisan commission that made what seemed at the time to be common sense proposals.
How things have changed.
Some of the commission’s members, Jimmy Carter for one, came out last year to disavow the commission’s work. And despite surveys showing that Americans overwhelmingly support measures to ensure election integrity — a recent Rasmussen survey found that 80 percent of Americans support a voter ID requirement — Democratic leaders across the board oppose such measures in the strongest terms.
Voter IDs are “an assault on democracy, an assault on liberty, an assault on who we are.”— Joe Biden
Here, for instance, is President Biden speaking recently in Philadelphia, condemning the idea of voter IDs: “There is an unfolding assault taking place in America today — an attempt to suppress and subvert the right to vote in fair and free elections, an assault on democracy, an assault on liberty, an assault on who we are — who we are as Americans. For, make no mistake, bullies and merchants of fear and peddlers of lies are threatening the very foundation of our country.”
But the fact is that the U.S. is an outlier among the world’s democracies in not requiring voter ID. Of the 47 countries in Europe today, 46 of them currently require government-issued photo IDs to vote.
The odd man out is the United Kingdom, in which Northern Ireland and many localities require voter IDs, but the requirement is not nationwide. The British Parliament, however, is considering a nationwide requirement, so very soon all 47 European countries will likely have adopted this common-sense policy.
When it comes to absentee voting, we Americans, accustomed as we are to very loose rules, are often shocked to learn that 35 of the 47 European countries — ncluding France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden — don’t allow absentee voting for citizens living in country.
Another ten European countries — including England, Ireland, Denmark, Portugal, and Spain — allow absentee voting, but require voters to show up in person and present a photo ID to pick up their ballots. It isn’t like in the U.S., where a person can say he’s going to be out of town and have a ballot mailed to him.
England used to have absentee voting rules similar to ours in the U.S. But in 2004, in the city of Birmingham, officials uncovered a massive vote fraud scheme in the city council races. The six winning Labor candidates had fraudulently acquired about 40,000 absentee votes, mainly from Muslim areas of the city.
As a result, England ended the practice of mailing absentee ballots and required voters to pick up their ballots in person with a photo ID.
Up until 1975, France also had loose absentee voting rules. But when massive vote fraud was discovered on the island of Corsica — where hundreds of thousands of dead people were found to be voting, and even larger-scale vote-buying operations were occurring — France banned absentee voting altogether.
How about our neighbors, Canada and Mexico? Canada requires a photo ID to vote. If a voter shows up at the polls without an ID, he is allowed to vote only if he declares who he is in writing and if there is someone working at the polling station who can personally verify his identity.
Mexico has had a long history of election fraud, but the last stolen presidential election occurred in 1994. Voters now must present a biometric ID — an ID with not only a photo, but also a thumb print. Voters also have indelible ink applied to their thumbs, preventing them from voting more than once. And absentee voting is prohibited, even for people living outside the country.
Those who oppose election integrity reform in the U.S. often condemn it as a means of “voter suppression.” But in Mexico, the percent of people voting rose from 59 percent before the reforms to 68 percent after.
It turned out that Mexicans were more, not less, likely to vote when they had confidence that their votes mattered.
H.R. 1, the radical bill Democratic Party leaders have been pushing to adopt this year, would prohibit states from requiring voter ID and require states to allow permanent mail-in voting.
And mail-in voting, I hardly need to point out, is even worse, in terms of vote fraud, than absentee voting.
With mail-in voting, a country is almost begging for vote fraud.
With absentee voting, a person at least has to request a ballot. With mail-in voting — as we saw in too many places in the 2020 election — ballots are simply mailed out to everyone. With loose absentee voting rules, a country is making itself vulnerable to vote fraud. With mail-in voting, a country is almost begging for vote fraud.
If the rhetoric we hear from the Left today is correct — if voter ID requirements and restrictions on absentee (or even mail-in) voting are un-democratic — then so are the countries of Europe and the rest of the developed world. But this is utter nonsense.
Those opposing common sense measures to ensure integrity in U.S. elections — measures such as those recommended by the bipartisan Carter-Baker Commission in 2005 — are not motivated by a concern for democracy, but by partisan interests.*
*This is just a polite way of saying that voter IDs make stealing elections far more difficult.
(The above, lightly edited by yours truly, was adapted from a talk delivered at Hillsdale College on Sept. 20 of this year.)