The AP’s Kristen Wyatt reports:
The Democratic Senate gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a bill making it a felony to intentionally lie about an election with the “intent to prevent a person from voting.” Such behavior is already illegal, but Democratic Sen. Irene Aguilar said penalties should be tougher.
“Deceiving voters about any aspect of the voting process should be patently illegal,” she said. Aguilar’s bill would cover lying about when elections are held – the old, dirty trick of telling likely opponents an election is Wednesday – and lying about eligibility or where to vote.
Republicans countered that the crime is rare already. A fiscal analysis prepared for lawmakers wouldn’t estimate the cost of Aguilar’s bill – because analysts projected zero prison sentences if the bill were law.
“What exactly are we trying to fix here?” asked Republican Sen. Kevin Grantham of Canon City. [Pols emphasis]
There seems to be a desire to draw an equivalence between Republican criticisms of Senate Bill 12-147, and the very similar criticism from Democrats of Republican-sponsored legislation to require photo IDs at polling places to vote. In neither case does the record show a significant incidence of the crime the bill is intended to prevent, although Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert Ortiz testified about widespread reports of false information spread there in 2008. Despite Clerk Ortiz’s firm conviction that vote suppression did indeed occur in Pueblo County, targeting “senior citizens registered as Democrats,” no charges were ever filed.
So what can you say about these bills, if both sides can be credibly accused of proposing legislation for which the existence of a problem actually being remedied is scant? Well, the Democrats’ bill toughening penalties against spreading false information about the election–“Vote Wednesday”–targets a practice designed to reduce the number of people who vote.
Requiring photo IDs at the polls will reduce the number of eligible voters who vote, to combat a “problem” for which incidence is every bit as rare–if not more. We know what Scott Gessler said about Georgia and African-Americans repeatedly, and he’s still wrong.
At the risk of “impugning motives,” folks, how big a stretch is it to conclude that the nexus of outcomes–fewer people voting–explains the disinterest from the GOP in “cracking down” on vote suppression fraud, while making photo IDs at the polls their top legislative priority?
As bad as that sounds, how else would you explain their votes?