America needs voter ID laws not only to combat voter fraud, but also to allay the fear of voters who believe fraud is a problem, members of a panel of conservative activists argued Thursday.
The claims were especially notable given that they came from several conservatives prominent in the voter ID movement who have worked to stir up fears of voter fraud. The conservative group Judicial Watch hosted the panel, which featured the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky, Pennsylvania Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht and former Justice Department lawyer J. Christian Adams.
“Voter fraud drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and breads distrust of our government,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton argued. “Voters who feel their legitimate votes will be outweighed by fraudulent ones will feel disenfranchised. Let me just be clear, it’s not only important that the elections be actually free, fair and clean, but that they appear to be free, fair and clean. Because if you don’t have confidence in the election system, people are not going to vote.”
“It is not okay for us [to feel] that our elections are insecure,” said Catherine Engelbrecht, president of the Texas-based voter integrity group called True the Vote.
Their comments echoed remarks that Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer made on MSNBC on Wednesday. Spicer compared voter ID laws to locking the doors to your house at night. “You do it not because it has a history of being broken into, but because you regard your property and your personal well-being as something precious and you want to protect it,” Spicer said.
During Thursday’s panel, Fitton accused Attorney General Eric Holder of making “racially inflammatory comments” about voter ID laws and accused the Justice Department of failing to force states to clean the voter rolls. Instead, Fitton said, DOJ is “working with the Project Vote/ACORN crowd” to make voter registration forms available at welfare, food stamp offices and DMVs.
Panelist also warned that the political establishment and members of the media opposed election integrity, with Pennsylvania voter ID law sponsor Metcalfe warning that the rhetoric could even result in threats and violence. Metcalfe, who told a radio host last month that many voters were simply too “lazy” to obtain photo identification, said he received “vile, vulgar, profane and threatening” communications after stories about his comments went national.