Peter Wallsten reports in the Washington Post today on the latest wave of Republican efforts to pass state laws requiring picture IDs for voters. “Backers of the voting measures,” says Wallsten, “say they would bring fairness and restore confidence in a voting system vulnerable to fraud.”
Well, yes, that is what they say. They’re lying, but that’s what they say. The real reason that Republicans are so gung ho on these measures, even though there’s no measurable voting-booth fraud anywhere in the United States, is because certain demographic groups are less likely to have picture IDs than others:
An analysis by the North Carolina State Board of Elections showed that any new law requiring a state-issued ID could be problematic for large numbers of voters, particularly African Americans, whose turnout in 2008 helped Obama win the state.
Blacks account for about one-fifth of the North Carolina electorate but are a larger share — 27 percent — of the approximately 1 million voters who may lack a state-issued ID or whose names do not exactly match the Division of Motor Vehicles database. The analysis found about 556,000 voters with no record of an ID issued by the DMV.
Imagine that. It might suppress black turnout, which helped Obama win the state two years ago. Elsewhere, Wallsten reports on efforts to prevent college students from voting. Guess who they vote for? If you guessed “Democrats” again, you win a gold star. In Indiana, which implemented a voter ID several years ago, a survey showed that blacks, the young, and low-income voters had access to picture IDs at significantly lower rates than whites, the middle aged, and the middle income. A quick look at the exit polls from any election in the past few decades shows that the most loyal Democratic demographics are blacks, the young, and low-income voters — exactly the groups targeted by voter ID laws.
There’s a level of loathsomeness and naked corruption to all this that’s hard to take even for those of us who follow politics closely and have few illusions about Marquess of Queensberry rules. But the goal of voter ID laws could hardly be more plain.