What Happened to ACVR?

Rick Hasen investigates the strange disappearance of the American Center for Voting Rights. As Hasen recounts, ACVR appears to have been a fly-by-night election reform organization that pushed voter ID laws in order to benefit Republicans.

In addition to exposing ACVR, Hasen argues that voter identification laws are unnecessary because polling-place voter fraud is rare and unlikely to affect many, if any, election results. While documented cases of polling place fraud are few and far between, Hasen acknowledges that documented cases of absentee-ballot voter fraud are more common. Yet some voter ID proposals would exempt those who cast absentee ballots. Another possibility, of course, would be to require IDs for both polling place and absentee voting.

No doubt some form their views on various election law questions, such as whether to require IDs to vote, whether to deny felons the franchise, or whether to facilitate early voting, based upon their expected practical consequences. Political partisans seek election laws that will benefit their party (as it appears ACVR did).

One can also approach these questions from the standpoint of what is, or should be, required of citizens, and what (if anything) should disqualify citizens from participating in elections. For instance, one may believe that an ID requirement is not a serious imposition on voters when IDs are required for everything from getting on a plane to renting a video. One might also believe that an ID requirement, especially if applied to absentee ballots, may help ensure future election integrity and (no less important) help maintain the appearance of election integrity. So, while some may support voter ID laws for partisan reasons, this does not (yet) convince me that voter ID laws are inherently unreasonable or unwise.