Some Americans have been warning Canada that following in their footsteps isn't wise. They warned that establishing mandatory minimum sentences fills up jails but does not deter crime. Still, as crime has fallen in this country, the Harperites have insisted that they know more about punishment than judges, and so our prisons are crammed to over capacity.
Now, an American lawyer, who has been battling American voter ID laws, warns that the "Fair" Elections Act will cause voter suppression. Witold Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union for Pennsylvania, cites what has happened in the United States:
Multiple academic studies point to an impact on turnout, especially among specific demographic groups: the young, the poor, and minorities.
The measured statistical effect has ranged from a couple of percentage points to more than a dozen, depending on what the study's measuring, what state it's looking at and the state's ID requirement.
- Researchers at the universities of Washington, Mexico and Northern Arizona concluded that white voters in Indiana were 12 per cent more likely than blacks to have the proper ID, and Republicans were 15 per cent more likely to have it than Democrats.
- In a national study, researchers at the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis concluded that black youth were 22 per cent more likely than whites to be asked to show ID, and that 13 per cent more black youth said their lack of adequate ID kept them from voting.
- Statistics guru Nate Silver estimated in 2012 that voter ID laws would reduce turnout by 2.4 per cent in Pennsylvania and help Republicans by 1.2 per cent. He predicted a similar pattern in Kansas, and lesser echoes in Idaho, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Utah.
Don't expect the Harperites to listen. Voter suppression is what the "Fair" Elections Act is all about. They know that 40% is the best they will ever do when it comes to public support. They want to ensure that they'll stay in power. So they'll legislate that outcome -- American experience be damned.