Richard Hasen, Chancellor's Professor of Law and Political Science at UC Irvine School of Law, discussed his recent book, The Voting Wars in a special presentation April 15 at TJSL.
Professor Hasen's presentation covered a range of voting controversies, from the contested votes in Florida during the 2000 election to recent debates over voter identification laws. Hasen challenged liberals and conservatives alike, noting that there is little evidence of voter impersonation fraud that would warrant identification laws. At the same time, Hasen argued, concerns that voter identification laws may suppress turnout may be overstated.
In Professor Hasen's view, the more fundamental problem is that voting in the United States is overseen at the state and local level by political elected officials, their staff, and volunteers, many of whom are not properly trained. Hasen argued that the United States should federalize voting by issuing all citizens voter identification when they turn 18 and instituting standardized voting machines and systems nationwide.
"From the 2012 elections, voter fraud was a hot topic, (i.e. "Voter I.D. Laws")," said TJSL alumna Morgan Simpson '11, who attended the presentation. "One of the things that was interesting in Mr. Hasen's talk was the information on voter fraud. He noted that there is not really proof of this fraud, on the scale that it has been portrayed. Specifically, a study was done from 2001-2010, and within that time frame voter impersonation fraud was only 0.5% (equating to only 7 prosecutions in 9 years). Mr. Hasen indicated, that there are more fraud issues with absentee ballots, than people actually walking in and trying to vote as someone else. Thus, the fraud that is usually committed is by election officials, not by impersonation."
The well-attended event was sponsored by the TJSL Center for Law and Social Justice, the TJSL Colloquium Committee, the American Constitution Society, the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, and the League of Women Voters.