June 24, 2011

The June 22 editorial “A vote against voting” argued against states’ new stringent voter-identification laws and said the number of documented cases of voter fraud is “tiny,” implying that this is a small price to pay for easing the way of some voters who just happen not to have a valid ID.

In this age of razor-thin margins and legally contested elections, it is insulting to most Americans to suggest that relaxed voter ID standards allowing even the possibility of stolen elections is somehow acceptable.

If a government wants to be trusted and respected, it must maintain the legitimacy of its elections and restrict voting to those confirmed to be eligible. Anything less would signal “open season” for those who are willing to steal in order to gain power.

H. Allen Stegall Jr., Frederick

twin [2] with voting fraud editorial

ej-

Dear John,

Thank you for sending me this letter. It’s hard to see how we don’t let the Georgia Secretary of State have his say. What the letter doesn’t say is either how the increase in Black and Hispanic voting compares with how much the Black and Hispanic voting age population of the state has increased over the same period; nor does it compare how much Black voting went up in Georgia compared with increases in states that do not have ID laws. The African American vote went up everywhere in 2008, and I was told by someone at the Brennan Center that it actually went up by less in Georgia than it did in nearby North Carolina, which does not have ID laws.

I am on the road today, if you want to fact-check the letter hard, I’d be glad to put you in touch with a voting expert whom I have discussed some of these matters with. Alternatively, we could run this letter but also be committed to running a letter challenging the way he uses these facts. As I wrote to Fred in an email yesterday, thanking him for our editorial on this subject, there are a lot of half-truths thrown around by advocates of voter ID laws, and we need to very careful upon factual matters here.

Even though I am on the road, Emily, my assistant, knows how to get in touch with the Brennan Center expert if you have any interest. She is also copied on this email and can be reached at 202-797-6178. And she’ll be in touch with me later this afternoon.

Warmest,

EJ

l

Regarding E.J. Dionne Jr.’s June 20 op-ed column, “Rigging the 2012 election”:

An analysis of votes cast in Georgia with the photo ID law in place refutes Mr. Dionne’s assertions that voter-ID laws will reduce voter turnout among minority groups. Georgia started requiring a photo ID for in-person voting in 2007. When we compare the 2006 general election with the 2010 general election, voter turnout among African Americans outpaced the growth of that population’s pool of registered voters by more than 20 percentage points. From 2004 to 2008, Hispanic and African American voter turnout increased by 140 percent and 42 percent, respectively, rates that align with the growth rates of voter registration in those demographics.

Mr. Dionne argued that photo ID and related election-security laws are not needed because voter fraud “is not a major problem.” As chairman of the Georgia State Election Board, I can attest that every year we investigate and penalize hundreds of people guilty of election and voter fraud, and we work with county district attorneys to prosecute them on criminal charges.

In Georgia, one instance of voter fraud is an unacceptable breach of the public’s trust.

Brian Kemp, Atlanta

The writer is secretary of state for Georgia.

SIGOK

Dear Mr. White,

We do not track voting age population figures for these groups and, as you most likely are aware, “voting age population” is not an accurate statistic for measuring voter activity such as turnout. A much better statistic is “voting eligible population,” which considers the numbers of felons, non-citizens and others who cannot legally cast a ballot. For more information on voter turnout as a percentage of both voting eligible and voting age populations, I will refer you to an excellent website maintained by the United States Elections Project at George Mason University.

I do have data on the number of registered voters in each demographic group at the time of each November general election cited in Secretary Kemp’s letter. The data are as follows:

2004 registered voters

Hispanic: 30,148

African-American: 1,155,706

White: 2,917,322

2006 registered voters

Hispanic: 43,514

African-American: 1,198,259

White: 2,963,854

2008 registered voters

Hispanic: 73,375

African-American: 1,560,419

White: 3,258,454

2010 registered voters

Hispanic: 75,658

African-American: 1,470,160

White: 3,110,275

I hope you find this data useful. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

Sincerely,

Matt

Dear Mr. White,

Thank you for contacting our office. I can confirm that Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is the true author of the letter below, and this letter has not been sent or posted to any other media outlet, forum or blog. Further, the edited version you sent is acceptable, and you certainly have permission to publish it in this edited format.

If you have any additional questions, please contact me at my office phone (404-656-4269) or cell phone (404-808-7709). Secretary Kemp is out of the office today, but you can reach him by cell phone at (706-540-0989).

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Matt Carrothers

mcarrothers@sos.ga.gov

Matt Carrothers Director of Media Relations Office of Secretary of State Brian P. Kemp 214 State Capitol Atlanta, GA 30334 Office: 404-656-4269 Fax: 404-656-0513