SPRINGFIELD — A new report is raising questions about Republican efforts to enact tougher voter identification laws in Illinois.
According to News21, a national investigative reporting project funded by the Carnegie Corporation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, of the 23 voter fraud cases logged in Illinois over the past 12 years, none has been related to someone impersonating someone else at the polls.
“The ‘rampant’ voter fraud alarm has been exposed as a myth and a deliberate falsehood,” said Michael Del Galdo, a Berwyn attorney who specializes in legislative efforts to address election fraud. “Having no cases of voter impersonation fraud here in Illinois in 12 years speaks for itself regarding the scope of the ‘problem.’”
The report comes as GOP lawmakers in Illinois and other states have been pushing proposals to require voters to show a driver’s license or state identification card to election judges before voting.
Among them is state Rep. Rich Morthland, a Cordova Republican who says voters need ID cards to drive and cash checks. “What’s wrong with making this activity more secure?” he said.
“Illinois is legendary for voter fraud. It seems surprising there isn’t more,” Morthland added.
State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, also has introduced a voter ID proposal that is languishing in the Democratic-controlled Illinois House.
He said he patterned the legislation after an Indiana voter ID law that has passed constitutional muster.
“I don’t think its asking too much for someone to carry a photo ID,” Mitchell said.
According to a recent poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, 9.4 percent of registered voters said they don’t have a current state-issued photo identification card and couldn’t show one at polling places if it were required to cast a ballot.
Of those, 14.6 percent were people with high school educations or lower, 16.2 percent were African Americans, 13.4 percent were voters younger than 35, and 14 percent were those in households with incomes below $50,000 annually.
Del Galdo said the low number of voter fraud cases indicates that lawmakers in Illinois and elsewhere could spend their time dealing with other issues.
“(T)he numbers of cases involved in each state over a 12-year period is so negligible that the issue hardly merits mention by responsible officials,” he said.