America reportedly an ‘outlier’ in voter photo ID requirements compared to Europe, other nations

The 2020 presidential election was unprecedented in many ways, the most glaring of which was the allowance of lax voting rules and mail-in ballots. And now Democrats are pushing to make this change permanent because of what they claim is racist voter “suppression.”

A new report from RealClearInvestigations, however, points to the benefits of strict voter ID laws as evidenced by results among America’s allies in Europe and other countries. 

Across Europe, voter photo identification is mandatory and helps protect election integrity and public confidence in the results. John Lott Jr. runs the Crime Prevention Research Center and studies election integrity measures. In his survey of 47 European nations, all but one– the U.K.– requires government-issued photo voter ID to vote. However, the U.K. has recently introduced legislation to implement voter ID.

RCI reports that British and Scottish leaders face criticisms for considering the implementation of these laws from those who say they target “lower income, ethnic minority and younger people” who are less likely to vote for Johnson’s conservatives and therefore represent “Trump-like voter suppression.”  

The United States moved to relax voter rules during the pandemic, but many places in Europe did not. 

According to RCI, 74 percent of European countries ban absentee voting for citizens who reside domestically. Another six percent limit absentee voting to only those hospitalized or in the military, and still require third-party verification and a photo voter ID. Another 15 percent require a photo ID for absentee voting.

Thirty-three nations in the 37-member Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (which has European overlap) require photo ID measures for voters with the exception of UK, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia.

Like the U.S., Poland allowed one-time mail-in ballots for everyone last year because of the pandemic, but the plan was executed so poorly that other countries refrained from the mail-in option.

The relaxed voter laws in the United States are measly when compared with countries like Colombia and Mexico which require a biometric ID to cast a ballot.

Northern Ireland experienced rampant voter fraud before their 2002 reforms. At one point, the country allowed medical cards to be used as a form of identification, but they were so easily forged that many took advantage, resulting in non-existent people found to have cast a vote.

RCI cites one study of vote fraud in Northern Ireland before the 2002 reforms that interviewed Brendan Hughes, the former IRA Belfast commander who explained that he had a fleet of taxis to ferry fraudulent voters from one polling station to another and that they “dressed up volunteers with wigs, clothes, and glasses, and said this practice continued for decades.” He also said that young women were frequently “used for voter impersonation because they were more likely to be let off if there was any doubt.” 

A 2002 survey of Northern Ireland by the U.K. Electoral Commission found that before the reforms were passed, by a 64 percent to 10 percent margin, voters thought that “fraud in some areas was enough to change the election results.”

Many European countries were forced to reexamine voter laws and implement measures to prevent fraud after problems with mail-in ballots. One incident in the U.K. was reported in 2004, before photo IF requirements where six Labour Party councilors in Birmingham won office in a “massive, systematic and organized” mail voting fraud campaign. 

France banned mail-in voting in 1975 due to massive voter fraud by mail in Corsica, where it was reported that postal ballots were stolen, bought and others were cast in the names of dead people.

For U.S. Democrats, mail-in ballots were non-negotiable last year because of what they claimed was the rampant threat of coronavirus, but the historic number of voters and numerous proven occasions of voter fraud have left many Americans questioning their motives in the move to make less restrictive voter laws permanent.

Studies in America point to the pitfalls of a more relaxed system as well. A bipartisan commission, led in part by former President Jimmy Carter, concluded that mail-in ballots are the “largest source of potential voter fraud.” And as evidenced in countries around the world, the removal of identification requirements when voting results in widespread fraud. 

The House recently passed the For the People Act of 2021, and though it failed in the Senate the first time, if passed when brought back to the floor, the mailing out of blank absentee ballots would become standard practice in American elections. 

Efforts in red states to require voter IDs for in-person voting and absentee ballots have resulted in boycotts from major corporations. 

This is despite the fact that, according to RCI, a number of states in recent years have instituted photo and non-photo ID measures, and found no statistically significant change in voter participation rates

Beyond that, other evidence suggests that black and minority voter registration rates increased faster than whites after states implemented voter ID requirements for registration.

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