President Obama was in Texas late last week, and during an interview with the Texas Tribune, he took some time to criticize the state’s voting restrictions, which has led to lower voter turnout. Pointing specifically to Texas’ prohibition on online registration and onerous voter-ID laws, the president said, “[T]he folks who are currently governing the good state of Texas aren’t interested in having more people participate.”
Gov. Greg Abbott (R) yesterday responded to Obama’s comments, saying via Twitter, “Texas will continue to crack down on vote fraud.” The tweet included a link to this Dallas Morning News article about the governor’s position.
And as it turns out, that probably wasn’t a good idea. Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog went ahead and clicked on the link Abbott included in his message about preventing voter fraud, and found that the Dallas Morning News report told readers that there have been about 80 cases of voter fraud prosecuted in Texas since 2002, but “only a handful of those cases involved the kind of in-person voter fraud that Texas’ voter ID law aims to stop.”
The newspaper relied on research that found “fewer Texans commit in-person voter fraud than get struck by lightning.”
In other words, while trying to defend needless voting restrictions, the governor emphasized his intention to “crack down on vote fraud.” But at the same time, Abbott pointed at evidence that makes clear he’s cracking down on a problem that doesn’t actually exist.
The Texas Tribune added yesterday:
The governor of Texas thinks that fraud in the electoral system that put him and others in office is “rampant.”He can’t back that up.
The article pointed to a comprehensive study that found, since 2000, there are “fewer than three” alleged instances of fraud for every 1 million votes cast in the Lone Star State.
How does that justify a statewide system of voter-suppression tactics? It doesn’t.
Update: MSNBC’s Zack Roth published a great piece a couple of years ago giving Abbott’s voter-fraud claims closer scrutiny.