For forty years it's been an article of faith that low voter turnout favors Republican candidates. It's one of the reasons why people attribute more electoral victories for Republicans in mid-term election seasons than for Democrats. The truth is that low voter participation favors extremism and further polarizes our politics, but that's neither here nor there. For at least the past twenty years Republicans have been working to discourage voter participation under the guise of voter fraud.
By the most amazing of coincidences, the voter ID laws being passed by Republican state majorities tend to discourage minorities and the poor more than anything else. Of course, conservatives are quick to argue that these laws aren't racist at all, that people disenfranchised by these laws are too lazy. But the fact is that these laws are responsible for lower voter participation among Democratic-voting citizens. The fact that it also tends to target voters who are minorities is apparently just icing on the cake; the racism is incidental rather than intentional.
Republican defenders of these laws insist it's about fairness and combatting fraud, but since Republicans have spent millions of dollars trying to prove voter fraud over ten years and have found only a handful of cases to support their claims, this argument falls flat. Instead we should listen to what Republicans are saying among themselves when it comes to these laws:
- “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban—read African-American—voter-turnout machine.”
- “Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.” (emphasis mine)
- “The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ”
- "Republicans have been slow to realize how early voting helps the Democrats. Most top Republican political operatives firmly believed, right up to the morning of the 2012 election, that Mitt Romney was going to win."
- “the law is going to kick the Democrats in the butt.”
- "In 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats."
- South Carolina GOP State Rep. Alan Clemmons, author of the voter ID bill, received an email from a supporter of the voter ID law, Ed Koziol of Greenville, suggesting that if black voters received a reward for obtaining the voter ID “it would be like a swarm of bees going after a watermelon.” To which Clemmons replied, “Amen, Ed, thank you for your support.” Clemmons also said he did not recall “distributing packets of peanuts with cards that read ‘Stop Obama’s nutty agenda and support voter ID,’” McClatchy reported, despite prior testimony to the contrary.
- "Yes. Absolutely. And the problem is that there hadn’t been that much activity with voter identification," Posner said. "Maybe we should have been more imaginative….We weren’t really given strong indications that requiring additional voter identification would actually disfranchise people entitled to vote."