Voter Fraud and Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development

When it comes to the widespread efforts among state and local politicians to rewrite laws and even turn back the clock on epoch-defining legislation like the Voters Rights Act in order to curtail perceived election fraud, much of the populace can affirmatively be said to be arrested at Kohlberg’s initial stage of moral development. When overwhelming evidence is offered that points directly to the conclusion that the facts do not support the contention, any suggestion of development beyond such a fundamental and elemental stage of mental development of any kind must be met with dubious suspicion.

Not only do serious claims of “widespread voter fraud…often prove greatly exaggerated” but more often than not “these claims of voter fraud are frequently used to justify policies that do not solve the alleged wrongs, but that could well disenfranchise legitimate voters” (Levitt 2007). If it can be assumed that the politicians who are accepting that voter fraud is running rampant despite the lack of evidence to support that view are basing their decision to confront the issue with such Draconian measures because they truly believe that the evidence is there, but simply has not yet been discovered, then their level of moral culpability is every bit as stagnated as the voter who uncritically accepts that where there is smoke there must also be fire. That stagnated realm of moral development is situated directly in the middle of the quagmire characterized by unyielding submission to a pervasive sense of authority defined by the type of morality Kohlberg suggests is external.

The arrested moral development of that inordinately large segment of the populace so easily coerced into believing that voter fraud is not only widespread, but has resulted in a significant impact on denying the will of the people in the electoral process should by all rights be difficult to explain. After all, Kohlberg situates his stage one theorem firmly within the purview of immature thinking that precedes the development of a higher level of critical engagement. How on earth could it actually be possible that when it comes to the singular issue of fraud at the polls—an ethical violation seemingly among the easiest to prove true in the 21st century age of technological innovation and NSA-style spying techniques—so much of the body politic should only be able to apprehend and perceive the realistic potential of voter fraud from the intellectual perspective of an elementary school student? Because “ordinary voters are not so easily discredited in the name of democracy.

The disconnect here is one that takes a few isolated cases that can be proven to transform them out of the black and white realm of facts and into the more nebulous realm of moral outrage. That moral outrage is predicated upon a pervasive stunted morality that will buy into any well-implemented propaganda which taps into that primitive notion most people retain from their youth which suggests that despite evidence to the contrary there do remain some isolated examples of moral absolutes external to every individual. Since almost any acceptance of the existence of a moral absolute is inextricably tied to a suspicion that there are those out there always trying to undermine it and send yet another reliably familiar truism to the bonfire of moral relativism, it becomes almost too easy to make the case that integrity trumps right.

Works Cited

Levitt, Justin. “The Truth About Voter Fraud.” The Truth About Voter Fraud. Brennan Center for Justice, 2007. Web. 07 Aug. 2016.

Minnite, Lorraine. “The Politics of Voter Fraud.” ProjectVote.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Aug. 2016.