Seth Meyers Slams Voter ID Laws For "Making It Harder, Not Easier, To Vote"
Meyers: Voter ID Laws "Have The Potential To Disenfranchise Millions Of People In This Year's Presidential Election"
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From the March 17 edition of NBC's Late Night with Seth Meyers:
SETH MEYERS: A strict new voter ID law in North Carolina went into effect for the first time on Tuesday. The law is just the latest in a series of controversial new voting restrictions across the country that could make it harder for millions of people to participate in this year's presidential election. For more on this, it's time for a closer look. First off, it's important to know that voting levels in the U.S. are already among the lowest in the industrialized world. Turnout in the 2012 presidential election was just 53.6 percent, compared to 87 percent in Belgium, 86 percent in Turkey, and 82 percent in Sweden.
MEYERS: And yet, lawmakers in Republican-controlled legislatures across the country have been trying to make it harder, not easier, to vote. "Since the 2010 election, 21 states have new laws making it harder to vote, and fifteen states will have them in place for the first time in the presidential election." The law in North Carolina is just the latest example. It requires voters to obtain one of a select few forms of ID to vote. And by at least one estimate, the "law could block as many as 218,000 registered voters from going to the polls." That's a huge deal. In 2008, Barack Obama won North Carolina by just over 14,000 votes. 218,000 votes could literally be the difference between President Hillary Clinton and glorious, beloved leader Donald Trump, all praise to him and his magnificent hands.
Now one of the big problems with the law is how arduous it is for some people, especially low-income residents and people of color, to obtain photo ID. For example, a 94-year-old woman in North Carolina "described how she had to make 10 trips to the DMV, drive 200 miles, and spend more than 20 hours to obtain one of the required forms of voter identification."
MEYERS: So why are lawmakers doing this? They claim it's to prevent voter impersonation fraud. But even the politicians who support these laws, like Republican North Carolina State Representative David Lewis, admit they don't have any evidence that voter fraud is a real problem.
REPORTER: How many documented, verified instances of voter fraud in the last five years do you know about?
NC STATE REP. DAVID LEWIS (R): We don't know how widespread that may be or may not be.
MEYERS: Don't prescribe a solution to a problem you're not sure exists.
MEYERS: In fact, a 2014 study found that such fraud is so rare, there have been only 31 credible cases since the year 2000 -- out of more than 1 billion votes cast. The overreaction to this total non-problem has been so insane that one 86-year-old, who's been voting since the Eisenhower era, could not obtain proper ID, despite presenting "her expired New Hampshire driver's license, two different birth certificates, a Social Security card, a Medicare card, and her apartment lease because the name on her birth certificate, Reba Witner Miller, did not perfectly match the name on her current document, Reba M. Bowser, following her marriage in 1950."
MEYERS: And North Carolina is not alone in going out of its way to make voting more difficult for students, low-income people, and people of color. In Alabama, the Republican-controlled legislature "passed a voter ID law making it illegal to vote in Alabama without a government-issued photo ID." And then last year, the state closed DMV offices in a number of rural counties, which critics said could "disenfranchise Alabama's poor, elderly, disabled, and black communities." Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill promised to make up for the closures by sending mobile units to those counties to give out IDs to the 250,000 eligible voters who didn't have them. But, in an interview last year, he revealed just how many of those 250,000 they actually reached.
JOHN MERRILL: We are sending that mobile unit to each and every county and making sure that everybody has an opportunity outside of the county seat to register to vote. And we're sending them to festivals. We're sending them to schools. We're sending them to churches. We're going on Saturdays and Sundays. We're sending them to Walmart.
CHRIS HAYES: Let me ask you this, that mobile unit, how many IDs has that mobile unit issued this year?
MERRILL: That mobile unit has only issued 29 IDs this year.
MEYERS: When asked why the registration effort had been so unsuccessful, Merrill said, quote, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink."
MEYERS: These laws have the potential to disenfranchise millions of people in this year's presidential election. We shouldn't be making it more difficult for people to vote, especially old people who had to fight for that right in the first place.