George Soros funding the voting rights fight

George Soros at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2010. Photo courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons.

Hungarian born philanthropist and investor George Soros is pouring as much as $5 million into the legal fight to end restrictive voting laws in Republican controlled states.

“We hope to see these unfair laws, which often disproportionately affect the most vulnerable in our society, repealed,” said Soros of restrictive voting laws.

Last month Democrats allied with Hillary Clinton filed lawsuits against restrictive voting laws in states like Ohio.

Ohio passed a law last February that would restrict early-voting and day of registration.

A Federal judge restored early voting in Ohio before the 2014 mid-term elections after the law was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Republicans in states like New Jersey, Wisconsin, Texas and others have claimed that these new restrictive voter laws are necessary to fight a plague of voting fraud.

Chris Christie, the Republican Governor of New Jersey criticized attempts by Soros and Clinton to scale these laws back.

“Secretary Clinton doesn’t know the first thing about voting rights in New Jersey or in the other states that she attacked,” Christie said, “My sense is that she just wants an opportunity to commit greater acts of voter fraud around the country.

However, voting fraud might not be as big a problem as the GOP claims according to Fraudulent Votes, Voter Identification and the 2012 US General Election, by John Ahlquist and Kenneth R. Mayer of the University of Wisconsin, and Simon Jackman of Stanford.

“Virtually every scholar who has studied voter impersonation fraud has concluded that it is vanishingly rare, and certainly nowhere near the numbers necessary to have an effect on any election,” the study says. “To give one idea of the scale: a review of allegations in the 2008 and 2010 elections in Texas found only four complaints of voter impersonation, out of more than 13 million votes cast, and it is not clear whether any of the complaints actually led to a prosecution.

What is clear however, is that these more restrictive voting laws do lead to lower voter turnout, and thereby a greater advantage to Republican candidates.

Voter-turnout was lower by 4.4 percent with states with tougher voting laws.

In 2012, Mike Turzai the GOP majority leader in Pennsylvania claimed that the voter ID law was necessary if Romney was going to win the state in the Presidential election.

 

[New York Times][Washington Post]