By EJ Montini, The Arizona Republic
On behalf of Gov. Jan Brewer, Attorney General Tom Horne and Secretary of State Ken Bennett (none of whom actually asked for my help) I called Sam Wercinski, Executive Director of Arizona Advocacy Network, and demanded that he stop trying prevent these three fine elected officials from wasting ungodly amounts of taxpayer money on a problem that does not exist.
By which I mean – voter fraud.
Last week, a two-judge panel from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the implementation of voter suppression laws in Arizona and Kansas.
The laws essentially go beyond the federal voter registration form, requiring those who register to provide proof of citizenship.
Wercinski's organization, along with the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, LULAC and State Senator Steve Gallardo has been fighting the law, which led to the state's plan to create and implement a completely unnecessary and wildly expensive two-track voting system. All for the few and far between cases of voter fraud.
"The 10th circuit did a good thing," Wercinski told me. "But the state seems intent on fighting this ridiculous fight anyway."
Arizona already has spent a ton of money on what top officials pretend to be a voter-fraud problem.
They know the problem doesn't exist.
But claiming that it does plays really, really well with some voters.
And it led the state to create a silly and completely unneeded two-tiered voting system that will separate those who registered using the state form from those who used the federal form.
Last year theArizona Republic looked into the history of voter-fraud cases in Maricopa County and found that among the few instances that were reported the number involving illegal immigrants was "nearly non-existent."
(The governor has for years spouted conspiracy theories about "illegals" voting.)
TheRepublicreport cited 21 criminal cases in which the suspect was charged with a felony related to voter fraud. A search of court records found 13 other cases.
No one in those cases was convicted of a felony or received any jail time. Most of the suspects were convicted felons who had lost the right to vote.
Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell said, "I don't see it (voter fraud) as a big problem."
When the Republic reviewed statistics from the state's 15 counties to see how many voters would be impacted by the requirement of a two-track voting system, it found that it would affect roughly 1,300 of the state's 3.2 million registered voters.
Meantime, implementing such a system would cost counties a bundle. Maricopa County elections director Karen Osborne cited an amount "north of $250,000."
There is no reason for Arizona to require more paperwork for voter registration than the federal government does.
I take that back. There is nopracticalreason. There is a political reason, of course. Politicians seem to believe that wasting your tax dollars on such a scam will get them elected.
Still, even a skeptic like me must admit that our costly all-out assault on voter fraud does occasionally reel in a ballot-busting culprit.
Not long ago a Bullhead City resident lost voting privileges and faces up to two and a half years in prison for voting twice in the 2010 general election.
The miscreant was not an illegal immigrant.
She is a 65-year-old woman. Republican.
The original article is available here.