The coming battle over the ballot box

Far from being racist, Mr. von Spakovsky argues, “voter ID is just a basic measure to protect the integrity of the voter-registration process. . . . A lot of times, the victims of voter fraud are in fact black voters and people in poor communities. They are the ones who often are taken advantage of, particularly by some Democrats, because they are less likely to complain or find out that their vote has been stolen.”

Example: In the 1990s, 11 defendants from 80% black Greene County, Ala., were convicted in a voter-fraud conspiracy whose aim, Mr. von Spakovsky says, was “to prevent reformers from winning elections.” The reformers, also black Democrats, were challenging incumbents in primaries. “Those reformers wanted to clean up local government, which was very important to the well-being of African-American residents in this very poor community.” The defendants received support from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

On the other hand, Mr. von Spakovsky acknowledges the partisan motives of Republican lawmakers in Virginia and elsewhere who have recently floated proposals to allocate their states’ electoral votes by congressional district. That would enable GOP presidential candidates to carry a portion—in some cases a majority—of the state’s electoral vote while losing the statewide popular vote.

‘I think it’s a horrible idea,” Mr. von Spakovsky says. “We have enough problems right now with the way congressional districts are gerrymandered. Particularly, we have a real problem with racial gerrymandering in our congressional districts. Well, if state legislatures were suddenly given the opportunity to influence the outcome of a presidential election dependent on how they drew up congressional districts, that would make the kind of gerrymandering we see now look tame in comparison.”