voter id

The Black Vote and Its Discontents

From Democracy Now, a former Florida GOP official by the name of Jim Greer claims that his party explicitly discussed keeping minorities away from the polls:

“I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting.” He continues: “They talked about not letting blacks vote … and minority outreach programs were not fit for the Republican Party.” His comments come amidst Florida’s standoff with the Justice Department and civil rights groups over a voter purge that critics say particularly targets people of color. In recent weeks, at least two top Republican state lawmakers — state Senator Glenn Grothmann in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai — have predicted that restrictive voter ID laws will help Republican candidate Mitt Romney win their states in November.

We know that the voter ID craze is illogical—fraud at the polls is almost nonexistent. Because of that, I’ve often wondered why Republicans are so intent on instituting laws that “protect” against this phantom threat. Is it a conspiracy to undermine civil rights? A lot of people have suggested as much, but that just seems so evil to me. I wonder: how much of it is just fed by the all too common ignorance of people with good intentions?

To answer such questions, we’d need to enter the mind of the elites at the highest echelons of political power. Since we can’t do that, glimpses like the one above become extremely important. We’ll never know exactly what our leaders are thinking and plotting, but if we manage to assemble enough of these wisps of insight, maybe we can piece together the picture.

In the case of voter ID laws, that picture is not looking too pretty.