“Vote early and vote often.” The phrase had its origins in the United States in the mid-19th century, and had an early appearance in Britain when a newspaper re-printed correspondence from an American attorney.
The phrase, however, did not find widespread use until the early 1900s when it was used in relation to the activities of organized crime figures in Chicago. The phrase was used by three different Chicagoans: Al Capone, the famous gangster; Richard J. Daley, mayor from 1955 to 1976; and William Hale Thompson, mayor from 1915-1923 and 1931-1935. All three were notorious for their corruption and their manipulation of the democratic process.
The phrase is used mostly to suggest the occurrence of voter corruption, and it suggests ballot stuffing or some other form of electoral fraud involving individuals casting multiple votes.
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) is a federal law, drafted in reaction to the controversy surrounding the 2000 U.S. presidential election. The goals of HAVA are:
- replace punchcard and lever-based voting systems;
- create the Election Assistance Commission to assist in the administration of Federal elections; and
- establish minimum election administration standards.
This link shows current voter registration and voting requirements.
Now Democrats are protesting strengthing (or even keeping) voter ID laws. House Democrats, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), said that voter ID laws were equivalent to poll taxes and Jim Crow laws, arguing that they were deliberate attempts to keep minorities from voting. Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), said that voter ID laws were “reminiscent” of racist Jim Crow laws that were enacted to keep blacks from voting. “Given the disproportionate impact the voter suppression laws will have on African American voters, these laws are reminiscent of the poll taxes used in the Jim Crow South,” Rep. Cleaver said.
State governments are granted the right under the Constitution to set standards for voting, but the Constitution has been amended to restrict what states may do. States may not limit the right to vote on account of race (13th Amendment), nor can states limit the right to vote on account of sex (19th Amendment), the right to vote based upon the payment of a poll tax (24th Amendment), nor the right to vote based upon age of a person 18 years old or older (26th Amendment). Nothing in the Constitution prohibits states from adopting reasonable steps to protect the sanctity of the vote by preventing voter fraud and insuring that a prospective voter is who he claims to be. But efforts by state legislatures to require voter identification, to reduce the time allowed for early voting, and to monitor more closely groups that engage in voter registration drives (such as ACORN) have angered politicians such as Richard Durbin (D-IL), Majority Whip of the U.S. Senate and Chairman of the Senate Civil Rights Subcommittee.