Voter Suppression: The Hidden Nuance Of Republican Voter ID Efforts

That might be the last time you see me write “nuance” and “Republican” in the same sentence.

Liberals and Democrats are having none of it. We see Republicans passing voter ID laws, to solve a non-existent problem, and we call it out. It’s blatant voter suppression. However, there is hidden nuance in Republican (crap, there’s that word combination again) voter ID efforts. Not all Republicans support voter ID efforts for the same reason, and I think we can categorize them into three groups.


The first group of Republicans knows exactly what they are doing. They know these voter ID laws will disproportionately impact minority and low-income voters who are more likely to vote Democratic. These Republicans will never publicly admit their real motivation, but privately, behind closed doors, they are fully complicit in suppressing the vote, to give Republicans an advantage in future elections. But wait, what about people like Mike Turzai, who said voter ID will “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” Didn’t he openly admit to suppressing the vote? How else would voter ID help Romney win if not for voter suppression? That brings us to the second group.


The second group of Republicans believe voter fraud is so pervasive, it’s the reason President Obama won in 2008 and 2012. It’s also the reason many Democrats are currently serving in congress. These Republicans live in a fantasy land. They have convinced themselves that liberals and Democrats are corrupt and anti-American and will stop at nothing, including widespread voter fraud, to win elections. Of course none of this is true. And in response, former Secretary of State Colin Powell asked today, “How can it [voter fraud] be widespread and undetected?” But that question expects a reasoned response, something you will not get from this group of Republicans.


The third group of Republicans are what I like to call the “Why not?” group. They aren’t necessarily interested in suppressing the vote, they might believe there is voter fraud, but to what extend they aren’t sure, but they simply ask, “Why not?” They say you have to show an ID to get on a plane or buy alcohol, so why not show an ID to do something as important as vote? But this argument is baseless. Sure, we have to show ID for plenty of things, but those things are not a right. Voting is a right. We shouldn’t compare buying alcohol with casting a ballot. It demeans the act of voting in a democracy.

When you point this out to this group of Republicans, some might push back and say voting is not actually a constitutional right. This response always amazes me, because (a) it’s wrong, and (b) it’s hardly an argument in support of voter ID. Do these Republicans actually listen to the words coming out of their mouths? Voting is not a right? Do you hear yourself? That’s your argument in support of voter ID? And yes, it is a right. While it is true the United States Constitution doesn’t explicitly guarantee an individual’s right to vote, there is a 1965 Voting Rights Act that does.

The constitution does not limit our rights to what is written in its text. Combine that with the Voting Rights Act, and you can bet your ass every citizen has a right to vote protected under law.

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