EDR is ripe for passage this year. Deval Patrick supports EDR and Tim Murray is slated to testify at next week?s hearing. Bill Galvin has said he ?wants to make it work.? Martha Coakley is for it. City and town clerks are coming around and realizing it will save them much of the headache of using provisional ballots for voters who show up but are not on the lists. The Globe editorialized in favor in 2003. We can get this done in time for the 2008 elections.
The main substantive argument against has been concern about voter fraud. But voter fraud — impersonating a voter or casting a vote if you are not eligible — is already a felony in Massachusetts punishable by up to five years and a $10,00 fine. A number of recent studies — the federal Election Assistance Commission (even watered down); Professor Lorraine Minnite at Barnard, the leading authority on vote fraud; Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan — have found that voter fraud is extremely rare. As a recent Washington Post op-ed put it, ?Proven voter fraud, statistically, happens about as often as death by lightning strike.?
That?s been consistent with my experience in Massachusetts elections over the years and the experience of election protection lawyers who have worked in Florida, Ohio, and elsewhere around the country.
And the more the Bush Justice Department unravels, the more it?s apparent that voter fraud is yet another fear stoked by Rove Republicans, in this case to drum up a basis for their efforts to suppress votes.
The only other argument is administrative convenience and expense. But it is possible to implement EDR without significant expense. And inertia is not a good enough reason to stand in the way of this proven democratic reform,
Your engagement now will help more people engage come Election Day. Mass Vote has been the lead organization in a coalition of supporters (Mass Vote?s Avi Green posted about EDR here in December) and can use your help. Come to the hearing, contact legislators, blog the hearing, we can get this done.