Voter ID legislation seems like a sneaky way to disenfranchise liberal and minority voters, but it’s a ploy that’s getting less sneaky over time… specifically because Republicans are no longer even trying to hide their motivations. That’s right, a number of conservatives are now openly stating what the real purpose of these voting regulations are:
1. Don Yelton
This past week, The Daily Show interviewed Don Yelton about voter ID laws and the North Carolina GOP leader was more candid than anyone expected. “If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks… so be it,” Yelton said. “The law is going to kick the Democrats in the butt.”
Yelton has since stepped down at the urging of his colleagues for not reflecting the “beliefs or feelings” of the Republican party. Others, meanwhile, suspect that Yelton’s real offense was being far too honest about the GOP’s strategy when he was supposed to hide behind buzzwords like “voter fraud.”
2. Mike Turzai
The Republican head of Pennsylvania’s state House stuck his foot in his mouth when he publicly listed voter ID laws on his list of conservative successes in 2012: “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done,” Turzai said.
Of course, the real problem is not the push for voter ID laws themselves, but Turzai’s admission that the mandatory IDs would be a boon for keeping Democratic turnout down. Though his spokesperson would later claim that Turzai meant that Romney would win without the threat of voter fraud, enough people could see through the spin. Claiming voter IDs as a victory strategy certainly isn’t the best way to keep the plan under the radar.
3. Phyllis Schlafly
Conservative author and pundit Phyllis Schlafly took an aggressive stance in a recent article: “If the poorest members of society can obtain photo ID to get taxpayer-funded handouts, they should be able to do likewise for voting. The real reason the left wants to make sure that individuals without voter ID are allowed to vote is because they are expected to vote for Democrats.”
Schlafly may have turned around the argument to put the blame on Democrats (while simultaneously insulting the poor), but the explanation is still the same: this law hurts Democrats. However, Schlafly needs to remember that it’s not the Democrats who are changing protocol in the hope of influencing elections. Instead, the burden is on the Republicans to suggest that voter fraud is actually legitimate enough to necessitate these changes, a situation that has been repeatedly unsubstantiated.
4. Jason Thigpen
Not all Republicans who admit the intent of voter IDs do so accidentally; in the case of this North Carolina congressional candidate, he actually condemns it. Thigpen goes so far as to call the law/restrictions a turd: “You can paint a turd and sell it as art, but it’s still a turd,” he said. “This is 2013 and any legislator that puts forth such a discriminatory bill should be laughed out of office.”
Though Thigpen believes it is important to prevent voter fraud, he worries that necessitating citizens without the proper ID pay to obtain a photo ID could amount to a polling tax.
5. Judge Richard Posner
The conservative judge appointed by Ronald Reagan to the federal Court of Appeals initially heard a pivotal case on voter IDs in Indiana back in 2005. At the time, Posner ruled against the challenge that the law would disenfranchise voters, finding that argument unfounded.
Years later, however, Posner has changed his tune. This year, he admitted his ruling was a mistake. He now says his colleague, Judge Terence T. Evans, was “right” in his dissent: “Let’s not beat around the bush: The Indiana voter photo ID Law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic.”