James O'Keefe released a video on Monday showing just how easy it is to commit voter fraud in Washington, D.C, one of several areas nationwide where voters do not have to show identification before casting their ballots.
Amid national debates about the fairness of identification requirements at polling places, O'Keefe's video aims to convince lawmakers that strong voter ID laws are not only legal, but necessary. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has a history of fighting against voter identification requirements, so O'Keefe used his name and address to pull off the video stunt.
The clip, filmed by a hidden camera, follows an unnamed young man as he walks into a polling place on Nebraska Avenue. The man asks whether the poll worker has Eric Holder on his registration list and then recites Holder's address.
I do, said the worker as he added a check mark beside Holder's name. Will you sign here?
The man then told the poll worker he had forgotten his ID.
As long as you're in here, and you're on our list and that's who you say you are, we're okay, replied the worker. Having proven the ease with which anyone could steal the Attorney General's vote, the man left the polling place without completing the registration.
The video was posted on Breitbart.com, eliciting extensive comments and arguments. As Project Veritas has proven, voter fraud is easy and simple -- and may be increasingly common in the absence of voter ID laws, said an article from Breitbart News.
O'Keefe conducted a similar investigation in January during the New Hampshire Republican primary election, when his team of undercover activists showed that it was possible to register ballots under the names of recently deceased New Hampshire residents. Videos of the operation were posted online.
James O'Keefe is a conservative activist and president of the nonprofit organization Project Veritas. He is best known for investigating alleged corruption or political bias in a range of high-profile institutions including ACORN, Planned Parenthood and NPR. The goal of Project Veritas is to train and empower other investigative citizen journalists, according to the organization's website.
Critics of O'Keefe's most recent stunt argue that voter fraud is simply not a legitimate problem. Monday's video shows that committing fraud can be easy, they say, but that doesn't mean it's common. Researchers at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University have conducted numerous studies on the issue; they have concluded that individual voter fraud is not only infrequent, but pointless.
Each act of voter fraud risks five years in prison and a $10,000 fine -- but yields at most one incremental vote. The single vote is simply not worth the price, said a 2006 analysis. Because voter fraud is essentially irrational, it is not surprising that no credible evidence suggests a voter fraud epidemic. There is no documented wave or trend of individuals voting multiple times, voting as someone else, or voting despite knowing that they are ineligible.
Furthermore, Holder and other opponents of voter ID requirements say that strict laws amount to disenfranchisement.
In March, Holder led Justice Department objections to ID requirements in Texas, arguing that the requirements were unfair to Hispanic voters, who were more likely than other groups in the Lone Star State to lack proper identification.
The Justice Department had similar objections to voting laws in South Carolina last year, when they argued that overly strong ID requirements barred a disproportionate amount of minorities from casting their ballots.
The reality is that -- in jurisdictions across the country -- both overt and subtle forms of discrimination remain all too common, Holder said in January. Protecting the right to vote, ensuring meaningful access and combating discrimination must be viewed not only as a legal issue, but as a moral imperative. Ensuring that every eligible citizen has the right to vote must become our common cause.