Writer offers his reasons why voter IDs are essential

Ed Rendell (left) moderates a debate at the Constitution Center on the voter-ID law. Pictured are (from left) Michael P. Williams of the NAACP; Robert F. Williams, Rutgers law professor; Witold Walczak, of the ACLU; John Fund, columnist for National Review; and Ronald G. Ruman, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of State's office of communications.
Ed Rendell (left) moderates a debate at the Constitution Center on the voter-ID law. Pictured are (from left) Michael P. Williams of the NAACP; Robert F. Williams, Rutgers law professor; Witold Walczak, of the ACLU; John Fund, columnist for National Review; and Ronald G. Ruman, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of State's office of communications. (MICHAEL BRYANT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: September 19, 2012

T HE PROBLEM nags at supporters of the state's voter-ID law - they say that the controversial legislation will stop widespread voter fraud, but they have no evidence to show that the problem exists.

John Fund, a conservative columnist who released books in 2004 and last month claiming that voter fraud is rampant, attempted Monday to defend the law during a panel discussion at the National Constitution Center.

Former Gov. Ed Rendell, who opposes the law, moderated the debate and pressed for explanations about why it is needed since attorneys for the state, during a legal challenge this summer, said that they could offer no evidence that in-person voter fraud occurs.

Here are five reasons why Fund said he believes in-person voter fraud happens in Philadelphia:

Chris Matthews says so - Fund cited comments that Matthews, a Philadelphia native who came from a politically active family, made during a July 2011 episode of MSNBC's "Hardball" when voter ID was being discussed.

"It has gone on in old-time politics," Matthews said. "It has gone on since the '50s that I know about. . . . I know all about it in North Philly. It's what went on. And I believe it still goes on."

Rendell didn't buy it, saying: "The last time I looked, Chris Matthews was not evidence."

Blame George W. Bush - Fund cited widespread voter distrust of the 2000 presidential election victory of Bush over former Vice President Al Gore.

"It is in the interest of the government in a very close race, especially for president, to have a system that people have confidence in and believe has integrity," Fund said.

Rendell countered that many people lacked confidence in the 2000 election results because Bush lost the popular vote.

The Republicans did it - Fund noted that Republicans controlled Philadelphia's politics until the 1951 election and "stole votes with abandon" before that.

Fund said that one party can benefit from legislation like the voter-ID law.

"That doesn't mean voter fraud doesn't happen," he said. "That doesn't mean it isn't good public policy. Not every law affects every party equally."

Arlen Specter says so - Fund said that the former U.S. senator and Philadelphia district attorney "told me personally that there has been lots of voter fraud in Philadelphia for a long time."

It has happened before - Fund cited the same election mentioned in a television interview last week by Gov. Corbett, a 1993 special election for a state Senate seat in Philadelphia. That election, later overturned by a federal judge due to rampant election fraud, was considered crucial to Democrats' taking control of the state Senate that year.

One logical problem: That scam was centered on absentee ballots, not the type of in-person voter fraud that the new state law is supposedly designed to combat.


Contact Chris Brennan at brennac@phillynews.com or 215-854-5973. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisBrennanDN. Read his blog at PhillyClout.com.

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