Ben Jealous Voter ID Rhetoric Inconsistent With Reality

Ben Jealous, the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), recently repeated the ridiculous and scurrilous claim that voter identification (ID) is tantamount to Jim Crow and a poll tax.  While there is no support for Jealous’ incendiary allegations, he is now desperately trying to support his case by grossly misrepresenting a survey by the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) in order to launch a radical campaign against voter ID laws.

In a television interview on CNN recently, Jealous claimed that our survey found a small amount of vote fraud to justify support of voter ID laws.  To the contrary, the RNLA discovered that vote fraud is a problem in almost every state – 46 out of 50 states have had prosecutions of vote fraud in the past decade, even though voter fraud cases are often difficult for a variety of reasons, including poor identification practices. 

Stories of vote fraud continue to fill newspapers.  In fact, the Virginia Division of Elections turned over 400 cases of vote fraud from the 2008 election to the state police; and almost four years late,r authorities are still investigating.  The Florida Division of Elections is currently investigating 180,000 cases of potential non-citizens on the voter rolls.  And in Troy, New York, party operatives are on trial for a vote fraud scheme.

Ben Jealous' rants do have a purpose though.  They put every prosecutor on notice.  You prosecute vote fraud cases, and the radical left will question your motives or label you as racist.  Prosecutions of voter fraud are difficult to begin with for a number of reasons.  As the Democrat African-American senior citizen sponsor of the Rhode Island voter ID law, Harold Metts wrote, “The old system was not set up to readily weed out fraud; and it would be very hard to prove.  Moreover, winners on election night would soon forget about any fraud, while the losers’ concerns would be dismissed as sour grapes.” 

The truth is, voter ID laws are something the NAACP should support because the laws empower individuals without identification to receive a free photo ID card issued by the state.  Important social services and every day activities in our society today already require ID.  In a state like Alaska, you need photo identification to receive welfare.  In Texas, you need it to get married.  And in Connecticut, you need it to cash a check. 

Ben Jealous has tried to make voter ID a racial issue when it is not. Among African Americans in Tennessee – a population the NAACP claims to represent and support – a Vanderbilt survey found most of them support voter ID.  But it’s not just in Tennessee.  According to a recent Rasmussen poll, most people believe that voter ID is not discriminatory. The NAACP is simply out of touch with most Americans, as they support voter ID – and those numbers comprise most Democrats, most Republicans, and most Independents. 

Ben Jealous took the outrageous step of taking the NAACP to Geneva to complain to the United Nations about voter ID, because his perspective on this issue is so radical he needed to seek an audience outside the United States.  Voter ID is not a human rights violation; it’s a common sense tool against fraud, and identification is something that empowers all members of our society no matter their race or ethnicity.  

Jealous is on the wrong side of the argument. History is long and will eventually prove him wrong.  It is disappointing he has decided to seek out conflict using the name of a venerable organization on an issue upon which the majority of Americans agree. 

Whatever provocative and intemperate statements Jealous may make, the fact remains that it is easier to cheat if voter identification is inadequate.  Recent efforts across the country aim to remedy those inadequacies. 

David A. Norcross is chairman of the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA).


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