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“You just keep saying voter fraud, voter fraud, voter fraud, voter fraud, rampant voter fraud, voter fraud – until it sounds like the truth.” That, said professor Carol Anderson, is how politicians get away with introducing restrictions aimed at stifling certain voters.

Ms. Anderson teaches African-American studies at Emory University in Georgia. Her new book, One Person, No Vote, is about the long history of voter suppression in the United States, particularly that directed at black and Latino communities that have a chance to swing an election.

The timing is right and the stakes are high: Midterm elections are imminent in the United States. Republicans want to keep control of the Senate and the House of Representatives, while Democrats want to wrest both awayin order to derail the Trump administration’s agenda.

The potential for voter suppression is very real, and Ms. Anderson has a long list of likely trouble spots. They include Georgia, Kansas and Wisconsin, places that have experienced hijacking in the form of gerrymandered districts, or polling stations moved out of low-income neighbourhoods. The most common tool, though, Ms. Anderson said, are laws around identification: Crackdowns on what can be used as proof of address are often an indicator of suppression.

“They’re being very specific about which IDs and they’re basing those IDs on the kind of data that deals with who has a driver’s licence and who doesn’t,” she said in an interview. “Who lives in public housing and has a public housing ID and who doesn’t. You begin to demographically identify different types of IDs and then make only certain types the Holy Grail to vote. Boom.”

Meanwhile, the threat of voter fraud has always been manufactured. One study focused on impersonation found 31 provable instances between 2000 and 2014, during which time more than one billion American votes were cast. This August, a Department of Justice investigation into the 2016 election process in North Carolina found that, out of almost 4.8 million ballots, 500 had been cast by ineligible voters. Most were people with criminal records, who didn’t know their records prevented them from voting (which, by the way, is wrong).

Yet North Carolina’s Republican legislature is still trying to introduce identification laws that have already been rejected twice for targeting black voters. “These folks portray themselves as hardcore patriots keeping elections from being stolen when what they’re doing is destroying the right to vote for millions of American citizens,” Ms. Anderson said.

Voter identification laws are the “bedrock” of suppression, said Ontario lawyer Steven Shrybman. He’s representing the Canadian Federation of Students and others in a coming Charter challenge because, yes, voter suppression happens here, too.

Most notable was the 2011 robocall scandal, when about 6,700 automated phone calls were placed on the morning of a federal election with misleading information on how to vote. That was dramatic, especially when Conservative staffer Michael Sona went to prison. Even so, Mr. Shrybman is more concerned with a slow chipping away of accessibility, which is what he thinks the former Conservative government was aiming for when it passed the Fair Elections Act in 2014.

Young people vote less than their elders – Elections Canada estimates that 57 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted in 2015, compared with 79 per cent of those 65 to 74 – and those who do vote tend not to vote Tory. Suspiciously, a number of provisions in the act seem to target young voters.

“If you’re a Conservative strategist and you realize that demographics aren’t your friend because of the increasing youth characteristic of the voting public, why not try to keep people from voting at all?” Mr. Shrybman said.

Among other troublesome moves, the act made voter information cards ineligible as proof of address, even though they’re based on Elections Canada records. This penalizes those who move often. Mr. Shrybman mentions as an example postsecondary students who keep their parents’ address on their driver’s licences until settling down after graduation, which is exactly what I did in my twenties.

The Liberals made an election promise to repeal the act, but haven’t. If they don’t do so soon, the Charter challenge begins in January.

Voter fraud is a myth here, too: Mr. Shrybman said the only true Canadian cases have involved people with dementia. Meanwhile, Elections Canada reports that 172,000 people were unable to vote in the last federal election owing to identification rules.

Voting is a right, both here and in the United States. Interrogating the identities of those for whom that right is most fragile is the real fraud.