If you have to stop people from voting to win, your ideas suck
As North Carolina passes the most offensive set of voter suppression laws in the nation, you have to hand it to Republicans. Pursuing voter ID is a poll-tested strategy: consistent majorities support these laws under the guise that they’re protecting the integrity of elections.
The only problem is that the integrity of our elections — like Christmas or the “sanctity” of marriage — does not need our “protection.”
The Bush Administration studied so-called “voter fraud” for years and found no evidence that it plays any role in swaying elections.
However, when a judge looked at Texas’ voter ID law last year, 603,892 to 795,955 Latino voters in Texas had no ID, which of course was the point of the law. Texas Republicans, because they could, made gun permits suitable identification but would not allow student IDs to be accepted at the polls.
It’s clear to anyone who follows reality that the epidemic of voter suppression laws that passed after 2010 were designed to keep President Obama from being elected by preventing Democratic constituents from voting. Now that that effort failed, the goal is to keep Republicans entrenched and prevent another popular Democratic candidate — Hillary Clinton? — from helping Democrats from clawing back power in purple and red states.
Republicans rebut this argument by accusing Democrats of being racist for suggesting that black people or other minorities aren’t capable of getting ID. This is an argument that could have been made for “poll tests” and systematic voter suppression for more than a century.
This country has a more than 200 year history of preventing certain groups from voting, even after that right had been fought for an won. The burden isn’t on voters to justify why voting should be easy. The burden is on conservatives — who have always thrived on stopping certain groups from voting — to prove why this right should be impeded in any way.
So while vast majorities of Americans think voter ID is fine, it’s the minority or minorities who understand the actual significance, the wretched implication and insult at the gut of these laws.
And there’s at least one Republican who gets it, the New York Times‘ Ross Douthat:
It’s also striking that Republican strategists and big shots have put so much effort into arguing that conservatives should essentially surrender on the immigration debate, a policy arena that actually matters immensely to the future of the country, in order to persuade Hispanics that they aren’t just haters and nativists … and yet those same figures seem content with, or even enthusiastic about, the party’s position on voter ID, which similarly tends to alienate minorities, but on a front where the actual policy stakes are minimal. This, despite the fact that Republican Party arguably has as much to gain from returning to its pre-Obama performance with black voters as it does from gaining ground modestly with Hispanics.
Of course, he’s using this point to argue against immigration reform in a less offensive way than many anti-immigration Republicans pursue. But he recognizes these laws present an attack on voters’ inalienable rights — something most Republicans refuse to admit is implicit in their trying to solve a problem that just doesn’t exist.
Republicans are pursuing tactics — on voting suppression and immigration reform — that can only work when the demographics are just right. And they’re pursuing it in era right before the demographics are about to get very bad for them.
If there is a great reckoning coming, it could not be more deserved.