As more states adopt strict voter ID rules, a review of temporary ballots from Indiana and Georgia, which first implemented stringent standards, found that more than 1,200 such votes were tossed during the 2008 general election.
During sparsely attended primaries this year in Georgia, Indiana, and Tennessee, the states with the toughest ID laws, hundreds more ballots were blocked.
The numbers suggest that the legitimate votes rejected by the laws are far more numerous than are the cases of fraud that advocates of the rules say they are trying to prevent. Thousands more votes could be in jeopardy for this November, when more states with larger populations aim to have similar rules in place, according to an Associated Press review.
More than two dozen states have some form of ID requirement, and 11 of those passed new rules over the past two years, largely at the urging of Republicans who say they want to prevent fraud.
Democrats and voting rights groups fear that ID laws could suppress votes among people who may not typically have a driver’s license, and disproportionately affect the elderly, poor, and minorities.
Although the number of votes is a small percentage of the overall total, they have the potential to sway a close election. The 2000 presidential race was decided by a 537 votes in Florida.
Supporters of the laws cite cases of fraud as a reason that states need to do more to secure elections, but fraud appears to be rare. The Republican National Lawyers Association last year published a report that identified some 400 election fraud prosecutions over a decade across the entire country, fewer than one per state per year.
Indiana, Georgia, and Tennessee require that voters provide a photo ID at the polls. Failing that, voters can use a temporary ballot that can be verified later.
Pennsylvania is putting a similar law in place for the November election. Kansas has comparable rules. Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin are moving in that direction for this year, if new rules survive court challenges and win federal approval. ASSOCIATED PRESS
McCain defends Romney on plans for trip to Israel
Senator John McCain of Arizona on Sunday defended presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s plan to visit Israel this summer but seemed less enthusiastic about a trip to the London Olympics.
“I really think it’s important that Mitt Romney go to Israel,” McCain said on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” “particularly, since these are the most very dangerous times; as you know, the talks with Iran predictably have failed, and we are facing what could be a serious crisis between Israel and Iran, so I strongly support that.”
Romney’s itinerary includes meetings with Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and president, Shimon Peres. He is also expected to meet with Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority; Daniel B. Shapiro, American ambassador to Israel; and leaders of Israel’s opposition Labor Party.
President Obama made a similar visit to Israel as a candidate in July 2008.
McCain, the GOP nominee that year, offered his support for Romney’s trip in response to Democrats who criticized Romney for being on vacation at his lakefront mansion in Wolfeboro, N.H., at the time of another weak jobs report last week.
As for the Olympics trip, McCain left the issue open. “Mitt Romney has a history of taking the Olympics in Salt Lake City from total disaster and actual criminal behavior to the most successful in history,” he said. “But I don’t presume to tell him where he should go or where he shouldn’t go.” - CALLUM BORCHERS
Odds 50-50 for GOP Senate takeover, McConnell says
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, said Sunday that the odds of Republicans taking over the Senate after November’s elections and him becoming the new majority leader are “50-50.’’
The Kentucky senator said on CNN’s “State of the Union’’ that he expects ‘‘a very close, competitive election’’ in the battles for the 33 seats on ballots this fall.
McConnell is not predicting a sweep for Democrats or Republicans in the fall Senate elections. With 50 seats needed to take control, McConnell said ‘‘at the end of the day, we will have a very narrow Senate one way or the other.’’
There are 51 Democrats and 47 Republicans in the Senate. There are two independents, Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman, who align with Democrats. - ASSOCIATED PRESS