The Dog That Voted

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Hey, guess what? My piece about voter fraud in the latest issue of the magazine, “The Dog That Voted,” is now out! The origins of the Republican crusade against voter fraud can be traced back to a lot of sources, but for all practical purposes it turns out that you can peg it to the 2000 election fiasco. Not the famous one in Florida, but the less famous one in Missouri, which produced three Republicans dedicated to pushing the cause of photo ID thoughout the country: John Ashcroft, the embittered U.S. senator who lost his reelection bid that night and went on to become George Bush’s Attorney General; Kit Bond, Missouri’s other senator, who went on to write the first-ever federal voter ID provision; and Mark “Thor” Hearne, who went on to become national counsel for the 2004 Bush campaign and then started up the American Center for Voting Rights, an organization funded by dark money and dedicated to spreading fear of vote fraud throughout state legislatures across the country. It was a lengthy campaign, but in the end it was a very effective one:

In retrospect, the campaign against voter fraud was long, patient, and strategic. Sen. Kit Bond got the ball rolling in 2002 when he made sure ID requirements were part of HAVA. In 2005, a commission on voting rights headed by former president Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker III gave a bipartisan blessing to photo ID rules. Thor Hearne spent the following two years barnstorming the country with dramatic tales of voter fraud. Meanwhile, the Justice Department and the Bush White House browbeat US Attorneys around the country to crack down on voter fraud, even firing a handful (including David Iglesias, then the US Attorney for New Mexico) who apparently weren’t zealous enough. And then, finally, the 2010 election brought new GOP majorities to 11 states—and with them a brand new wave of restrictive voting laws.

So: why are Republicans so obsessed with voter fraud? And how effective are photo ID laws at suppressing left-leaning votes? The answers to both of these questions are a little less obvious than you might think. But it’s a fascinating story. Check it out here.

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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