I haven't had a chance to spend much time with the Milwaukee Police Department's report on irregularities in the 2004 election and probably won't until later today. I agree with Jay Bullock that it's something of a political Rohrschach test. (Subliminally influenced there, Jay?) The voter ID issue in general is such an issue. My sense of the issue is that voter ID would deter very few votes and prevent very little fraud. Where you come down tends to turn on how you weigh the ease of voting vs. the potential for fraud.
But I approach the debate with one huge qualification. There is really no way to know how much fraud there is because, at least in Wisconsin, we have created a system where it is damn near impossible to get caught. I assume that there is not wholesale schemes to game our elections because I suspect that somebody involved would talk, but no one can really know. And, when elections are as close as they have been here, even a little cheating can go a long way.
I have always thought that the combination of no real identification requirement combined with same day registration (along with partisan registrars)pretty much amounts to a license to cheat. I don't know how many people actually do so, but, then again, neither does anyone else.
In the 2004 election, I watched a guy from a Democrat front group (Americans Coming Together)register people at the polls on election day based on things like a lease or utility bill. In that particular case, I am confident that he did not knowingly abet fraud because I happened to know the guy (we worship at the same church) and I don't think he'd do that. But I also know that he had no way to tell if he was being gamed and neither did I (or the other seven lawyers that were lolling around the polling place).
But, without regard to who it hurts or helps, shouldn't this make us uncomfortable?