The other day, in reference to several states’ new voter ID requirements, Eric Holder asked, “What kind of nation and what kind of people do we want to be? Are we willing to allow this era to be remembered as the age when our nation’s proud tradition of expanding the franchise ended?” Of course, one could just as easily ask that question about flying on an airplane, cashing a check, or ordering a Big Mac. Are we willing to allow our era to be remembered as the age when our nation’s proud tradition of expanding waists ended?

The Left likes to claim that voting fraud is a non-existent problem. Media Matters claims that there are only “scattered instances of in-person voting fraud.” On the floor of the North Carolina General Assembly, Democratic Minority Leader Joe Hackney claimed that in 2008, out of over 4.3 million votes cast, 40 were deemed irregular. In her veto of North Carolina’s bill requiring a photo ID to vote, Gov. Bev Perdue (the same governor who wanted to suspend elections for a few years) said, “There was a time in North Carolina history when the right to vote was enjoyed by only some citizens rather than all. That time has passed and we should not revisit it.” Apparently, that only applies when the Governor is not facing early retirement. However, Democratic National Committee Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was a little more direct, claiming Republicans want to “literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws.” Literally. Complete with the separate bathrooms and everything.

Frivolous charges of racism aside, these people miss the point. A simple, five-minute Google search indicates that voter fraud is a real problem. North CarolinaNew York, and Wisconsin have had cases surface in the last few months, and voter fraud isn’t only limited to marauding ACORN types. In a separate North Carolina case, a candidate for the town council was in on the act. In Indiana, the Secretary of State (i.e. the person responsible for overseeing elections) is the subject of an inquiry. Such scandal in recent elections casts a dark cloud over the integrity of our elections and raises serious concerns about the legitimacy of the people who win them.

And let’s be honest, how hard is it to show ID? In a Rasmussen Poll, 70% of likely voters said that voters should be required to show photo ID before casting a ballot. And the photo ID requirement is a fairly standard practice in other countries. In addition to India and South Africa, many European countries also require an ID to vote (and aren’t we always told how we should be more like Europe?). So, a photo ID requirement is hardly unusual and is, indeed, standard practice in much of the world. Additionally, there is overwhelming support for these requirements. This suggests that the desire for a voter ID requirement is grounded in a very real desire to have fair elections. Or maybe everyone save Eric Holder is a racist. Because if you live in a cave and ignore all of the data (considering the way Holder runs the Justice Department, not an implausible proposition), that would be the only explanation that makes sense.

Marc Seelinger // University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill // @marcseelinger