Commentary Magazine


Topic: Voter ID laws

Is Early Voting a Right or a Dem Tactic?

What will make the difference in the Democrats’ efforts to hold onto the Senate? Is it the unpopularity of President Obama? Or perhaps it’s the collapse of U.S. foreign policy? ObamaCare? According to the New York Times, policy may not be the crucial factor in determining whether, for example, embattled Democrat incumbent Kay Hagan retains her North Carolina seat. Rather, the Times asserts, it may be the altered rules for voting in the Tarheel State that will reduce the number of days in which North Carolinians may vote early from 17 to 10, a move that Democrats have denounced as racist in nature. But while turnout will be a crucial factor in the outcome, the notion that the amount of early voting days is a measure of a state’s commitment to voting rights or to the fight against racism is a partisan and pernicious myth.

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What will make the difference in the Democrats’ efforts to hold onto the Senate? Is it the unpopularity of President Obama? Or perhaps it’s the collapse of U.S. foreign policy? ObamaCare? According to the New York Times, policy may not be the crucial factor in determining whether, for example, embattled Democrat incumbent Kay Hagan retains her North Carolina seat. Rather, the Times asserts, it may be the altered rules for voting in the Tarheel State that will reduce the number of days in which North Carolinians may vote early from 17 to 10, a move that Democrats have denounced as racist in nature. But while turnout will be a crucial factor in the outcome, the notion that the amount of early voting days is a measure of a state’s commitment to voting rights or to the fight against racism is a partisan and pernicious myth.

As with their somewhat desultory efforts to exploit concerns over the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri into a rallying cry to turn out African Americans to vote for their candidates in the midterms, Democrats see allegations of racism as crucial to their efforts. That’s especially true in southern states where minorities are their key constituencies.

For the past few years, liberals have sought to assert that Republicans were doing nothing less than seeking to inaugurate a new era of Jim Crow racism by promoting voter-integrity laws that required voters to produce a picture ID to identify themselves before casting a ballot. Though most Americans believe it is nothing more than a commonsense measure, Democrats take it as an article of faith that asking someone to identify themselves by the same method required to perform virtually any transaction or to travel is racist in nature. That’s a stretch under any circumstances, but at least they can point to some statistics that show minorities are less likely to have a picture ID–though they fail to explain why they think they are less capable of obtaining a free one from the state than other citizens.

But whatever the merits of photo ID laws, the emphasis on early voting as a principle of non-racist society is baffling.

Much of the country has embraced the concept of early voting in order to broaden participation in elections. Where once the act of coming to the polls on Election Day was considered a sacred civil rite in which all should participate, many now believe that letting people vote by mail or offering opportunities to vote weeks in advance of the end of the campaign is essential to broadening the electorate.

But while one can make an argument for making voting more convenient, it’s not clear why minorities stand to benefit more from the practice than the rest of the population. Nor should mere convenience be confused with the right to vote.

It is something of a mystery as to why some Democrats seem to need gimmicks like early voting or votes by mail more than Republicans. Is it because the latter are intrinsically more invested in the system than those who feel themselves to be more marginal to society or the political establishment? Perhaps.

But the attempt to frame, as is the case in North Carolina, the contrast between 17 days of early voting and ten as the difference between an inclusive democracy committed to equality and a return to Jim Crow isn’t merely absurd; it’s a partisan smear.

To speak of that difference as a case of “voting restrictions,” as the Times refers to it in the headline of their article on the battle in North Carolina, is disingenuous. As it happens, the new rules allow the same number of hours for pre-election day voting in North Carolina as before, only not stretched out over as many days.

Early voting advocates ignore the complications that can arise from having so many people voting before the end of the campaign when candidate’s stands and statements can still influence in the outcome. With more than a third of the nation now not voting on Election Day, it must be understood that we are not all operating with the same information, a trend that is potentially more corrosive to democracy than adjustments in early voting schedules.

But even if we ignore that factor, much of this debate seems to revolve around an effort to herd as many voters into the polls before they can change their minds or lose interests in candidates. In that sense, early voting seems more partisan gimmicks—like straight party-line levers that were once common in many states—than an expansion of rights.

If liberals are really concerned about getting out the minority vote, they will devote more resources to building turnout and educating voters about the necessity of showing up at the polls. The hubbub about early voting or even voter ID seems geared more to creating a sense of grievance among minorities whose voting rights are not in question than anything else. Fomenting an attitude in which African Americans believe themselves to be discriminated against even as the polls remain wide open for them and everyone else is a partisan tactic for Democrats; not a matter of civil rights. That may get more of them to the polls to vote for Hagan and other Democrats. But it’s also designed to give them an excuse if they lose. As such, it’s a foolproof tactic for a party that knows it’s in trouble this fall.

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The Justice Department Voter ID Charade

Why is the Justice Department doing everything in its power to invalidate Voter ID laws? According to Attorney General Eric Holder, it’s simply a question of voting rights. But lawyers representing the state of Texas, whose voter ID law is being challenged in federal court this week by the federal government, have a different explanation. They say that while Holder claims Republicans have promulgated voter integrity laws to limit the number of blacks and Hispanics casting ballots and increase their chances of winning, that’s looking at the case through the wrong end of the telescope. Instead, it is, as voter ID defenders rightly assert, the result of a Democratic administration trying to alter the outcome of elections in southern, Republican-leaning states.

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Why is the Justice Department doing everything in its power to invalidate Voter ID laws? According to Attorney General Eric Holder, it’s simply a question of voting rights. But lawyers representing the state of Texas, whose voter ID law is being challenged in federal court this week by the federal government, have a different explanation. They say that while Holder claims Republicans have promulgated voter integrity laws to limit the number of blacks and Hispanics casting ballots and increase their chances of winning, that’s looking at the case through the wrong end of the telescope. Instead, it is, as voter ID defenders rightly assert, the result of a Democratic administration trying to alter the outcome of elections in southern, Republican-leaning states.

That charge has the Justice Department outraged as they think the claim of Texas’s attorneys that it is the feds who are practicing a form of discrimination is absurd. The government argues that laws requiring voters to identify themselves when voting are inherently discriminatory because the poor, the elderly, and blacks and Hispanics are less likely to have a photo ID. But the context here is not so much the presumption that these groups are either too stupid or without the will to procure a picture ID. It is the effort of the Justice Department to resurrect the “pre-clearance” provisions of the Voting Rights Act which used to require southern states to get federal permission before changing their voter procedures.

But, as the Supreme Court has ruled, singling out these states for that kind of treatment can no longer be justified by the awful practices that were prevalent more than a half-century ago. Though Holder and the groups who claim to represent the cause of civil rights are acting as if they are still fighting Jim Crow laws, their efforts aren’t so much about fighting discrimination as they are an attempt to convince the country that it is still 1964, not 2014.

The facts about voter ID laws are pretty simple. In an age when you can’t complete virtually any private or public transaction, fly, take a train, or get prescription drugs without a photo ID, the notion that people should be allowed to simply show up and cast a ballot without proving that you are a registered voter boggles the mind. The overwhelming majority of Americans have photo identification and states that require them for voting offer free state ID cards for those who don’t have drivers’ licenses or passports.

The government argues that this makes it impossible for some to vote because they have no ability to get identification. But the witnesses they are bringing forward to back up that assertion don’t seem terribly credible. In the New York Times feature on the issue, we are introduced to one such example, 22-year-old Imani Clark, who resides in rural Texas where there is no public transportation to get her to a state center to get an ID card. But it boggles the mind to think that what appears to be an able-bodied employed young African-American student such as Clark is really unable to come up with any proof of her identity. Indeed, to assume that African Americans or Hispanics are without the wit to do so is itself a discriminatory view that most blacks and Hispanics do not share.

As Texas’s lawyers have pointed out, a report by the Justice Department’s inspector general that said there was no evidence of a discriminatory intent behind voter ID laws but also noted that there was evidence of “deep ideological polarization” among government lawyers pursuing this case.

That report was spot on. The claim that voter fraud is unknown in the United States—thus obviating the need for voter integrity provisions—is a joke. To believe that we would have to forget everything we know about American political history as well as human nature.

But while asserting that voter fraud is unproven, Justice believes it can merely claim discrimination without being required to show either intent during its passage or bias in the law’s implementation. But to do so it they must act as if the Texas of today is no different from the Texas of the past. This is a false charge that one can only hope the courts will eventually reject.

The only thing motivating this case is partisan politics. But rather than it being a function of a prejudiced GOP seeking to hamstring Democrats, the truth is that it is really a matter of a Democratic administration trying to gin up anger among African Americans and Hispanics about a measure that is simply a matter of common sense. Democrats are trying to hype minority turnout not by protecting their rights but by falsely asserting prejudice. This is nothing but a partisan charade and a case that the courts should throw out.

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The Descent From the March to Voter ID

This weekend the nation is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. The event is supposed to coincide with the completion of the memorial on the National Mall to Martin Luther King Jr. But what is left of the once great civil-rights movement has spent the summer preparing for the occasion by attempting to recapture the fervor of those bygone days of struggle by hyping new issues of concern. To listen to the racial hucksters that rail at us from their perches at MSNBC and other outposts of the liberal mainstream media, the difference between the America of 2013 and that of 1963 is merely superficial. They tell us that a country that could allow George Zimmerman to walk free in the killing of Trayvon Martin or that might ask citizens to produce a photo ID when voting is as racist as the racially segregated place that King and others denounced in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial five decades ago.

Demonstrating the utter falsity of this charge doesn’t require much effort. We can merely point to the fact that the America we live in has a black man as its president as well as its attorney general. Though it is not perfect or completely free of a variety of prejudices that still lurk in the hearts of some of us, it is a nation that has for the most part transcended its past. The basic rights demanded at the march have been granted. The south has changed, as has the north. Segregation is outlawed and blacks now freely vote in numbers that sometimes outpace that of whites. So it is a sign both of the enormous progress we have made in the last five decades as well as the bankruptcy of the groups that cling to the label of civil rights that the evidence of American racism is today reduced to arguments about a confusing case involving a Hispanic man claiming the right of self-defense and a voter integrity measure that is actually supported by most African-Americans. While it is fitting that the country should pause this week and remember the march as well as the heroism of those who struggled for civil rights, we do the memory of that effort no honor by confusing the genuine grievances it sought to redress with the trumped-up issues now put forward as evidence of official racism.

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This weekend the nation is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. The event is supposed to coincide with the completion of the memorial on the National Mall to Martin Luther King Jr. But what is left of the once great civil-rights movement has spent the summer preparing for the occasion by attempting to recapture the fervor of those bygone days of struggle by hyping new issues of concern. To listen to the racial hucksters that rail at us from their perches at MSNBC and other outposts of the liberal mainstream media, the difference between the America of 2013 and that of 1963 is merely superficial. They tell us that a country that could allow George Zimmerman to walk free in the killing of Trayvon Martin or that might ask citizens to produce a photo ID when voting is as racist as the racially segregated place that King and others denounced in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial five decades ago.

Demonstrating the utter falsity of this charge doesn’t require much effort. We can merely point to the fact that the America we live in has a black man as its president as well as its attorney general. Though it is not perfect or completely free of a variety of prejudices that still lurk in the hearts of some of us, it is a nation that has for the most part transcended its past. The basic rights demanded at the march have been granted. The south has changed, as has the north. Segregation is outlawed and blacks now freely vote in numbers that sometimes outpace that of whites. So it is a sign both of the enormous progress we have made in the last five decades as well as the bankruptcy of the groups that cling to the label of civil rights that the evidence of American racism is today reduced to arguments about a confusing case involving a Hispanic man claiming the right of self-defense and a voter integrity measure that is actually supported by most African-Americans. While it is fitting that the country should pause this week and remember the march as well as the heroism of those who struggled for civil rights, we do the memory of that effort no honor by confusing the genuine grievances it sought to redress with the trumped-up issues now put forward as evidence of official racism.

It should be specified that the plight of a significant portion of the contemporary African-American community is such that we might well wonder how much progress has been made since King memorably dreamed of an America where his children would “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” But the severe challenges of poverty, family breakdown, gangs, and a pervasive culture of violence that is part of the creation of a near-permanent underclass is largely the result of the social pathologies that grew out of the welfare state that arose in the aftermath of the march, not white racism. That these problems were the unintentional result of good intentions gone awry rather than prejudice is ironic but it is one that is largely lost on the race hucksters.

Martin’s death was the result of a confusing and violent struggle between two members of minority groups. It was taken out of context and is now routinely characterized by pop icons like Oprah Winfrey as a modern Emmitt Till case. That Martin’s death is not remotely comparable to Till’s murder was obvious to anyone who watched any of Zimmerman’s televised trial during which not a scintilla of proof was produced about Zimmerman’s racism.

But that is just as true of the attempts by the Department of Justice to treat voter ID laws as a rerun of Jim Crow. The vast majority of African-Americans, like every other segment of American society, thinks there’s nothing wrong with asking people to be able to identify themselves when they vote. Common sense voter integrity measures seem reasonable to people that know that, unlike in 1963, nowadays one needs a photo ID to bank, buy cold medicine, or travel, let alone make any transaction with the government. Only those afflicted by the bigotry of low expectations think blacks are more incapable than other Americans of obtaining a free government ID if they don’t have a driver’s license or a passport.

The myth propagated by the left, and echoed by the Obama administration, that voter ID laws are racist is an attempt to racialize an issue that has nothing to do with prejudice against African-Americans. Whereas once civil rights meant an effort to prevent white racists from stealing elections via laws that literally stopped all members of some groups from voting, now it seems to mean preventing any effort to protect the integrity of the votes of all citizens.

The inappropriate rhetoric employed by Obama, Attorney General Holder and those charlatans like Al Sharpton who purport now to speak in the name of the cause of civil rights have debased the coinage of the rhetoric of freedom that was so nobly advanced by King and others at the march. The descent of the civil rights movement from outrage at genuine discrimination to false flag issues like Martin or voter ID shows have far this nation has come. But it also illustrates the irrelevance of that movement to the genuine problems that are faced today by African-Americans.

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Stopping Voter ID Is Not Civil Rights

The upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington is a fortuitous coincidence for groups determined to stop Voter ID laws such as the one just signed into law in North Carolina. To listen to Rev. Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, the memory of that seminal moment in history when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. asked Americans to judge each other by “the content of their character” rather than by the “color of their skin” is an opportunity to relive the civil-rights struggle in which voter integrity laws will stand in for Jim Crow and segregation. But like the fake outrage expressed by Democrats and liberals over the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision upholding the Voting Rights Act while mandating that the Justice Department acknowledge that it is 2013 rather than 1965, Americans should not be fooled by this scam.

The North Carolina legislation goes further than other voter ID laws in that it rolls back both efforts to make it easier to vote early as well as early registration for those under 18. But whatever one may think of those measures, the idea that any of this has anything to do with racial discrimination or efforts to re-impose the racism that once characterized America’s political system is absurd. No one is attempting to repeal the right to vote or to restrict the franchise. Those who are making this argument in an era when African Americans are voting in numbers similar to those of whites and when we have just reelected the first African American president of the United States are making a mockery of the legacy of the civil-rights struggle.

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The upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington is a fortuitous coincidence for groups determined to stop Voter ID laws such as the one just signed into law in North Carolina. To listen to Rev. Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, the memory of that seminal moment in history when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. asked Americans to judge each other by “the content of their character” rather than by the “color of their skin” is an opportunity to relive the civil-rights struggle in which voter integrity laws will stand in for Jim Crow and segregation. But like the fake outrage expressed by Democrats and liberals over the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision upholding the Voting Rights Act while mandating that the Justice Department acknowledge that it is 2013 rather than 1965, Americans should not be fooled by this scam.

The North Carolina legislation goes further than other voter ID laws in that it rolls back both efforts to make it easier to vote early as well as early registration for those under 18. But whatever one may think of those measures, the idea that any of this has anything to do with racial discrimination or efforts to re-impose the racism that once characterized America’s political system is absurd. No one is attempting to repeal the right to vote or to restrict the franchise. Those who are making this argument in an era when African Americans are voting in numbers similar to those of whites and when we have just reelected the first African American president of the United States are making a mockery of the legacy of the civil-rights struggle.

The gap between the purple rhetoric of opponents of voter ID laws and reality remains great. It should be remembered that the overwhelming majority of Americans, including African Americans, support commonsense laws that require citizens to identify themselves when voting with a picture ID just as they must when they travel by air or train, conduct even the most minor bank transaction, or buy alcohol or even cold medicine. They also know that the claims that there is no such as thing as voter fraud in the United States require us to forget everything we know about American political history and human nature.

But somehow all that is forgotten when Democrats and their racial huckster allies begin sounding off about voter ID laws. While claiming that they are defending the right to vote, what they are really doing is trying to create a false issue with which they can attempt to claim that nothing has changed since 1963.

The point of the recent Supreme Court decision is that the pre-clearance feature of the Civil Rights Act which requires states and localities that were guilty of discrimination in 1965 to be under federal supervision as far as voting laws was rooted in a past that had nothing to do with current conditions. In doing so, it did not take back the right to vote but merely said the Department of Justice must prove that discrimination exists before intervening. But there is a clear distinction between alleging discrimination and actually enforcing laws that prevent blacks or any other group from voting. Blacks are no less capable of obtaining a photo ID—which can be gotten from the state free of charge—than any other group.

To minimize the enormous and positive changes that have occurred since 1963 is to diminish the evil that Jim Crow represented. The racism that the March on Washington helped to reverse was not a metaphor or false argument. Nor was that protest merely a political tactic aimed at inflaming part of the electorate as the current furor over voter ID has been. Any comparison of Jim Crow to voter ID undermines the hard-fought progress that this country has made.

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Trayvon, Texas, and Voter ID

Attorney General Eric Holder never uttered the words “Trayvon Martin” or “George Zimmerman” in his remarks today at the convention of the Urban League in Philadelphia. But his address, in which he vowed to impose “preclearance” procedures on the state of Texas in order to prevent it from making any changes in voting procedures without the express permission of the Department of Justice, must be viewed in the context of a liberal drive to take advantage of the “conversation” on race that so many on the left have urged upon the country in the aftermath of the verdict in the Zimmerman trial. Holder’s actions are primarily a response to the Supreme Court’s decision to reaffirm the Voting Rights Act while mandating that Congress redraw the map that determines which jurisdictions must get advance permission from the DOJ without the latter having to go to court first, rather than merely going by the outdated one drawn up in 1965. But there’s little doubt that Holder and the left are hoping the hysteria that race merchants like Al Sharpton have helped stir up in the last two weeks will help them turn public opinion on the question of voter ID laws that are at the heart of the federal attack on Texas.

The Martin case has been cited by many liberals who have sought to argue that the Court’s majority was somehow wrong to rule that the America of 2013 is nothing like the one that existed in 1965. The tone of much of the commentary from the left, including that of President Obama on the Zimmerman case, has been to insist that for all of the obvious progress made, the death of Martin proves we are essentially no better off in terms of racism that we were in the pre-Voting Rights Act era. But like the post-trial discussion that ignored the actual facts of the trial, Holder’s assertion that voter ID laws are, by definition, proof of discrimination is not only disingenuous; it’s flat out false.

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Attorney General Eric Holder never uttered the words “Trayvon Martin” or “George Zimmerman” in his remarks today at the convention of the Urban League in Philadelphia. But his address, in which he vowed to impose “preclearance” procedures on the state of Texas in order to prevent it from making any changes in voting procedures without the express permission of the Department of Justice, must be viewed in the context of a liberal drive to take advantage of the “conversation” on race that so many on the left have urged upon the country in the aftermath of the verdict in the Zimmerman trial. Holder’s actions are primarily a response to the Supreme Court’s decision to reaffirm the Voting Rights Act while mandating that Congress redraw the map that determines which jurisdictions must get advance permission from the DOJ without the latter having to go to court first, rather than merely going by the outdated one drawn up in 1965. But there’s little doubt that Holder and the left are hoping the hysteria that race merchants like Al Sharpton have helped stir up in the last two weeks will help them turn public opinion on the question of voter ID laws that are at the heart of the federal attack on Texas.

The Martin case has been cited by many liberals who have sought to argue that the Court’s majority was somehow wrong to rule that the America of 2013 is nothing like the one that existed in 1965. The tone of much of the commentary from the left, including that of President Obama on the Zimmerman case, has been to insist that for all of the obvious progress made, the death of Martin proves we are essentially no better off in terms of racism that we were in the pre-Voting Rights Act era. But like the post-trial discussion that ignored the actual facts of the trial, Holder’s assertion that voter ID laws are, by definition, proof of discrimination is not only disingenuous; it’s flat out false.

The attorney general’s decision to go to court against Texas gives the lie to much of the fulminations from the administration about the decision in Shelby v. Holder. Far from easing the way toward a new era of Jim Crow, the court reaffirmed the Voting Rights Act’s safeguards against discrimination but merely said that the DOJ could not preempt the judicial process without a necessary re-write of the act based on the realities of contemporary America rather than one based on the situation in 1965. Thus, Holder is perfectly free to sue in federal court to stop Texas from doing anything he deems discriminatory.

But, like the incendiary rhetoric that sought to indict “Stand Your Ground” laws after Zimmerman’s acquittal as being a license for shooting down innocent young black men, Holder’s claim that Texas’s drawing of voter districts discriminates against Hispanics is unfounded. But the big prize here is his bid to prevent any state from requiring voters to identify themselves at the polls.

In an era when it has become easier to register, including at the polls on election days and where mail-in and absentee ballots have become commonplace, voter fraud has become easier, necessitating measures to ensure the integrity of results. The vast majority of Americans, including African-Americans, believe there is nothing wrong, let alone discriminatory, about asking voters to identify themselves in the same manner that they must to conduct virtually any other transaction with the government or business. Voter ID laws are a commonsense measure that are as easy to comply with as it is to register to vote. But liberals and race baiters have sought to make them the lever by which they can convince the country that racism is alive and well.

Like the Martin case, the discussion about voting rights is about assumptions about race that have little to do with facts. Trayvon Martin has been transformed from a troubled youth who died in a confusing fight to a martyr because civil rights groups and others that seek to profit from the focus on race need him to symbolize their effort to persuade America that nothing has changed since 1965. The same is true of Holder’s rant about Texas and voter ID. The courts should dismiss this claim just as decisively as the Zimmerman jury rejected a murder charge.

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Left Lives in the Past on Voting Rights

Listen to the hue and cry from liberals over the Supreme Court’s decision today in Shelby County v. Holder and you would think the conservative majority had just overturned Brown v. Board of Education or declared discrimination on the basis of race to be legal. Of course, the 5-4 decision on the future of the Voting Rights Act did nothing of the kind. The high court not only reaffirmed the validity of the act but also even left in place Section 5, which created a mechanism that would require pre-clearance by the federal government of any changes in voting procedures in states and localities that were deemed by Congress to be habitual violators of the right to vote. But what it did do was to declare the existing formula stated in Section 4 to be the places where such scrutiny would be carried out to be unconstitutional. The reason for this is so obvious that it barely deserves to be argued: the Jim Crow south that Congress put under the federal microscope five decades ago isn’t the same place today. If there is to be a formula that would require some places to get the government’s prior permission to do anything that affects voting, it should be one based on the current situation, not one crafted to deal with the problems faced by Americans during the Lyndon Johnson administration.

Why then are political liberals and the so-called civil rights community so riled up about the decision? Some are merely offended by the symbolism of any alteration in a sacred piece of legislation. But the reason why the left is howling about this isn’t so much about symbolism as it is about their ability to manipulate the law to their political advantage. Under the status quo, enforcement of the Voting Rights Act isn’t about reversing discrimination so much as it is in applying the political agenda of the left to hamper the ability of some states to enact commonsense laws, such as the requirement for photo ID when voting or to create districts that are not gerrymandered to the advantage of liberals. By ending pre-clearance until Congress puts forward a new scheme rooted in evidence of systematic discrimination going on today, it has placed all states on an equal footing and made it harder for the Obama Justice Department to play politics with the law. It has also given racial hucksters that continue to speak as if a nation that has just re-elected an African-American president of the United States was little different from the one where blacks couldn’t vote in much of the country.

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Listen to the hue and cry from liberals over the Supreme Court’s decision today in Shelby County v. Holder and you would think the conservative majority had just overturned Brown v. Board of Education or declared discrimination on the basis of race to be legal. Of course, the 5-4 decision on the future of the Voting Rights Act did nothing of the kind. The high court not only reaffirmed the validity of the act but also even left in place Section 5, which created a mechanism that would require pre-clearance by the federal government of any changes in voting procedures in states and localities that were deemed by Congress to be habitual violators of the right to vote. But what it did do was to declare the existing formula stated in Section 4 to be the places where such scrutiny would be carried out to be unconstitutional. The reason for this is so obvious that it barely deserves to be argued: the Jim Crow south that Congress put under the federal microscope five decades ago isn’t the same place today. If there is to be a formula that would require some places to get the government’s prior permission to do anything that affects voting, it should be one based on the current situation, not one crafted to deal with the problems faced by Americans during the Lyndon Johnson administration.

Why then are political liberals and the so-called civil rights community so riled up about the decision? Some are merely offended by the symbolism of any alteration in a sacred piece of legislation. But the reason why the left is howling about this isn’t so much about symbolism as it is about their ability to manipulate the law to their political advantage. Under the status quo, enforcement of the Voting Rights Act isn’t about reversing discrimination so much as it is in applying the political agenda of the left to hamper the ability of some states to enact commonsense laws, such as the requirement for photo ID when voting or to create districts that are not gerrymandered to the advantage of liberals. By ending pre-clearance until Congress puts forward a new scheme rooted in evidence of systematic discrimination going on today, it has placed all states on an equal footing and made it harder for the Obama Justice Department to play politics with the law. It has also given racial hucksters that continue to speak as if a nation that has just re-elected an African-American president of the United States was little different from the one where blacks couldn’t vote in much of the country.

The Voting Rights Act was needed in 1965 because for a century the federal government had failed to enforce the 15th Amendment—that guaranteed the right to vote of former slaves and any other American citizen—in the states of the old Confederacy. Though Americans were long taught that the period of “Radical Reconstruction” that followed the Civil War was an abuse that was rightly abandoned, the truth is the attempt to reconstruct the south didn’t go far enough and was ended too soon. What ensued was a Jim Crow regime in the south that was kept in place by a Democratic coalition of northern liberals and southern racists and enabled by apathetic Republicans. That is a sorry chapter of American history, but the achievements of the civil rights era have put it firmly in our past.

The reality of 2013 is that even the left is hard pressed to find anyplace in the country where anyone who is legally entitled to vote and wants to exercise their franchise is being prevented from doing so. Stating that is not to deny that racism still exists in some quarters of American society anymore than any other species of hatred. Nor does it imply that our electoral system is perfect or incapable of betterment. But to leave in place a legal formula that treated some states differently than others solely because of history is not only absurd, it is unconstitutional discrimination. In a country where, as it was argued before the court, Mississippi may have a more healthy voting rights environment in some respects than Massachusetts, preserving the battle lines of the fight against Jim Crow is not only meaningless, it actually hampers efforts to combat illegal practices.

But the main interest of those dedicated to preserving the status quo wasn’t in preventing states from denying a right to vote that is not in question. It was in holding onto their capacity to use federal law to prevent some states from passing voter ID laws that have been wrongly branded as a form of discrimination or voter suppression. The vast majority of Americans—including the members of those groups that civil rights advocates claim will be injured by voter ID laws—think these measures are merely a matter of common sense to ensure the integrity of the election system. But by disingenuously waving the bloody shirt of Jim Crow, the left has sought to brand race-neutral laws like voter ID a form of racism.

Opponents of the majority decision claim this is a judicial usurpation of the prerogative of the legislature since Congress has re-authorized the Voting Rights Act without changing the formula that placed all or parts of 15 states under the Justice Department’s control with regard to voting. But that is due to the fact that the vote to retain the act became a ritual by which members were forced to prove their anti-racist bona fides, not a rational debate about the actual provisions of the law. Congress lacked the courage to face facts on a part of the law that had past its expiration date, so the court was forced to deal with it.

Neither this decision nor the debate that will follow it will affect the ability of Americans to vote because that is a right that is no longer in dispute. What it will do is send a reminder to Americans that we have moved on from our unhappy past and that if we are to protect voting rights, it must be done on the basis of reality rather than sentiment or symbolism. That will make it harder for the left to accuse their opponents of racism without basis. But an American society that has thankfully moved on from this debate will be better off for it.

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Cries of Racism Cloud Real Issues in Court

Liberals are jumping all over Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s comment yesterday during an oral hearing in which he asked whether continuing the special enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act in some states was a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” Many, including his court colleague Justice Sonia Sotomayor, seemed to interpret it as questioning whether the right to vote is itself a “racial entitlement.” For his pains, Scalia was branded a racist. What is left of the aging remnants of the once-vital civil rights movement are hoping that outrage about that remark can galvanize public pressure not just for the continuation of the Voting Rights Act as it currently stands, but against both voter integrity laws and the system of racial majority districts.

The problem with the critique of Scalia is pretty much the same as that with the defense of the legal status quo. What is at stake in this debate and the legal case in question–Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder–is not the right to vote, which Scalia supports as much as any liberal. There is no evidence that anyone in Shelby County is trying to reinstate Jim Crow laws or prevent African Americans or other minorities from exercising their constitutionally protected right to cast a ballot. Nor is there any evidence that this is true anywhere else in the states and counties that remain under direct federal supervision as a result of the 1965 law. The entitlement in question is rather the ability of the Justice Department to act as a national elections commission in certain areas that were once strongholds of racial hatred, even though the country has changed markedly in the last half century. Instead of promoting the false charge that Scalia is a segregationist, the focus should be on who benefits from the continuation of Section Five of the Act. The answer is: a class of political elites that benefit from the creation of racial majority districts.

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Liberals are jumping all over Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s comment yesterday during an oral hearing in which he asked whether continuing the special enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act in some states was a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” Many, including his court colleague Justice Sonia Sotomayor, seemed to interpret it as questioning whether the right to vote is itself a “racial entitlement.” For his pains, Scalia was branded a racist. What is left of the aging remnants of the once-vital civil rights movement are hoping that outrage about that remark can galvanize public pressure not just for the continuation of the Voting Rights Act as it currently stands, but against both voter integrity laws and the system of racial majority districts.

The problem with the critique of Scalia is pretty much the same as that with the defense of the legal status quo. What is at stake in this debate and the legal case in question–Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder–is not the right to vote, which Scalia supports as much as any liberal. There is no evidence that anyone in Shelby County is trying to reinstate Jim Crow laws or prevent African Americans or other minorities from exercising their constitutionally protected right to cast a ballot. Nor is there any evidence that this is true anywhere else in the states and counties that remain under direct federal supervision as a result of the 1965 law. The entitlement in question is rather the ability of the Justice Department to act as a national elections commission in certain areas that were once strongholds of racial hatred, even though the country has changed markedly in the last half century. Instead of promoting the false charge that Scalia is a segregationist, the focus should be on who benefits from the continuation of Section Five of the Act. The answer is: a class of political elites that benefit from the creation of racial majority districts.

As both the plaintiffs and some of the justices pointed out yesterday, the problem that that provision of the law was designed to address has been solved. Voter turnout of blacks is actually higher in the nine states covered by the Act than in the rest of the country. The continuation of Section Five–in which certain areas must prove they are not discriminating against minorities rather than forcing the government to prove that they are–does, however, hamper the ability of legislatures to redraw districts or to pass voter integrity laws that liberals falsely allege are directed against minorities.

It must be understood that once the detritus of segregation and other laws intended to prevent blacks from voting were swept away, the main point of the law has been to create a system that enshrined racial gerrymandering as the norm. Since it was assumed that whites would never vote for an African American, the courts mandated that congressional and legislative districts be drawn so as to ensure that blacks and in some cases Hispanics would be able to elect one of their own.

This led to a vast expansion of the number of blacks in Congress and in state legislatures, but ironically also hurt the party that most of them supported. The districts created by this racial gerrymander were often bizarrely drawn and had little to do with geography or history. But the main point is that they drained black Democratic voters from other districts that ensured the engineering of a few safe Democratic seats. Yet they also made the remaining districts much whiter and, ironically, far more likely to be Republican.

That was good for the few black politicians who were in possession of these safe Democratic and racially homogeneous seats, and for the Republican Party that cleaned up everywhere else. Whether that is actually good for the country or for African American voters, who have little influence on the composition of Congress and whose representatives are the products of petty one-party autocracies, is another matter entirely.

Just as crucial to understanding the impact of this case is the way the Civil Rights Act has become a weapon to use against voter integrity laws. What is left of the civil rights movement has embraced the cause of stopping voter ID laws as a way of reviving their influence. Minorities are no less capable of getting the same photo ID that is needed to conduct just about any transaction in the modern commercial world or to interact with government than anyone else. But the left attempts to argue that opposition to them is indistinguishable from that of racial justice. This is absurd, and it is opposed by what polls have consistently showed to be the vast majority of Americans—including minorities—who think laws that seek to prevent electoral cheating are inherently reasonable.

The current interpretation of the Voting Rights Act gives Attorney General Eric Holder the right to oppose these laws and to brand them as racist. As the president’s mention of the issue in his State of the Union showed, this is an attempt to play the racial card for partisan purposes. It also gives aging rights groups who have outlived their usefulness a new lease on life. But all this also undermines any notion that what is at stake in the Shelby case is anything remotely connected to the original intent of the 1965 law.

The South has transcended its tragic past and is no more nor less racist than any other part of the country. But given the inability of so many in Congress on both sides of the aisle to rise above their own self-interest on this issue, the court is the only venue that can talk sense and end a practice that now does more mischief than good. Protecting the right to vote is a sacred cause that deserves the support of all Americans. But the preservation of this outmoded system, or wrongly branding Scalia a racist, has nothing to with that.

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No Vote Fraud? Court Intervenes in Philly

We’ve spent most of the year listening to Democrats and liberals lecture the American people about how there is no such thing as vote fraud in the United States. The best response to these disingenuous arguments, which are intended to prevent the adoption of voter ID laws, could have been summed up in one word: Philadelphia. There may be other cities where electoral hijinks are far from unusual, but is there anything to match the long and not very honorable tradition of crooked elections in the place where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written and adopted? The city’s Democratic machine is a throwback to the Tammany Hall era of American politics that has vanished in even most of our most corrupt urban areas, but which is still going strong in the City of Brotherly Love. While liberals claimed the Pennsylvania Republican Party pushed through a voter ID law in the state legislature in order to steal the election, the real motivation for the law’s passage — and for the fact that most Pennsylvanians approved of it — was in the well known propensity of Democrats to pile up majorities in Philadelphia that were more than a little suspicious.

The latest example of this practice came today as approximately 70 Republican poll watchers were either denied entry to Philadelphia precincts to observe the proceedings or were actually tossed out of voting sites. But the GOP went to court, and has already obtained a judicial order enabling their officials to do their jobs, with the assistance of sheriff’s deputies if necessary.

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We’ve spent most of the year listening to Democrats and liberals lecture the American people about how there is no such thing as vote fraud in the United States. The best response to these disingenuous arguments, which are intended to prevent the adoption of voter ID laws, could have been summed up in one word: Philadelphia. There may be other cities where electoral hijinks are far from unusual, but is there anything to match the long and not very honorable tradition of crooked elections in the place where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written and adopted? The city’s Democratic machine is a throwback to the Tammany Hall era of American politics that has vanished in even most of our most corrupt urban areas, but which is still going strong in the City of Brotherly Love. While liberals claimed the Pennsylvania Republican Party pushed through a voter ID law in the state legislature in order to steal the election, the real motivation for the law’s passage — and for the fact that most Pennsylvanians approved of it — was in the well known propensity of Democrats to pile up majorities in Philadelphia that were more than a little suspicious.

The latest example of this practice came today as approximately 70 Republican poll watchers were either denied entry to Philadelphia precincts to observe the proceedings or were actually tossed out of voting sites. But the GOP went to court, and has already obtained a judicial order enabling their officials to do their jobs, with the assistance of sheriff’s deputies if necessary.

To anyone who knows anything about Philadelphia politics, this is a familiar story. I have been told by a number of former Republican poll watchers that it is common practice for local Democrats, acting with the approval of election commission officials, to make sure that nobody from the GOP is able to inspect the voting machines or monitor whether those voting are legally entitled to a ballot. Yet, as Fox News reports, it is a little unusual for this many GOP officials to be physically restrained from doing their jobs.

Of course, not all poll watchers are unwelcome. In 2008, members of the New Black Panther Party patrolled a polling site armed with billy clubs–something that, unsurprisingly, the Obama Justice Department refused to classify as an act of voter intimidation. The Black Panthers are reportedly back today in Philadelphia doing the same thing, though this time they may be smart enough to rely on glowering looks rather than clubs to make sure no one votes the wrong way.

The irony here is that after months of claiming that Republicans were seeking to suppress the vote in the name of a bogus desire to prevent fraud, Philadelphia Democrats are back to their old tricks proving why voter ID laws and other measures to prevent criminal tampering with the vote are necessary.

After all, this is the town where the person who runs the City Commission that supervises elections openly campaigned for President Obama in the final days before the vote. Such brazen flouting of the proprieties is par for the course in Philadelphia, where complacency about corruption has always allowed the dominant party to do as it liked with little fear of being held accountable. Those who claim that there is no verified proof of voter fraud are able to do so because the police and the district attorney’s office have rarely been interested in kicking a political hornet’s nest that could embarrass the officials and the network of Democratic ward leaders and activists that keep the city’s political machine running.

It’s not likely that the GOP poll watchers will have much luck getting in to do their jobs, no matter what the courts say. And even if they do, their ejections have enabled precinct leaders enough time to do whatever it was they were hiding from the observers. The fact that the Democrats were so open in their contempt for the law shows just how much importance they place on being able to conduct their affairs without scrutiny in Philadelphia, where a large Democratic turnout is necessary in order to offset Republican gains elsewhere in Pennsylvania. However, the episode is just one more argument not just for voter ID laws, but also for a greater emphasis on preventing voter fraud in the future.

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Why the GOP Doesn’t Trust Philly Dems

One of the sidebars to the story about the passage of the voter ID law in Pennsylvania was the fact that most of the state’s Republicans think Democrats, particularly those in Philadelphia, cheat with impunity. Democrats claim this is all nonsense, but those who know the city’s political history understand that this is one place where machine politics is not something confined to the history books. That law won’t be enforced this year as a result of a court ruling that more time is needed to prepare voters. However, suspicion that Democrats are up to no good lingers and a partisan email blast from the city official who supervises elections isn’t helping matters.

Stephanie Singer is the chairman of the City Commission, the body that supervises, among other things, Philadelphia’s Board of Elections. In a normal city where such an office is a non-partisan or civil service post, it would be inconceivable that the person who is in charge of ensuring a fair vote would be involved in partisan politics, but when it comes to civics or ethics, Philadelphia remains mired in the bad old days of machine politics. Therefore, when the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Singer sent out an email blast urging citizens to vote to re-elect Barack Obama, the city of Brotherly Love merely shrugged. That Singer also went on in the email to claim that Judaism demands its adherents vote for the Democrats illustrates the way Jewish liberals have attempted to politicize their faith. But the willingness of the city to accept a situation where the elections commissioner is a rabid partisan tells us a lot about why there is so much distrust in Pennsylvania about the honesty of the elections system in the state’s largest city.

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One of the sidebars to the story about the passage of the voter ID law in Pennsylvania was the fact that most of the state’s Republicans think Democrats, particularly those in Philadelphia, cheat with impunity. Democrats claim this is all nonsense, but those who know the city’s political history understand that this is one place where machine politics is not something confined to the history books. That law won’t be enforced this year as a result of a court ruling that more time is needed to prepare voters. However, suspicion that Democrats are up to no good lingers and a partisan email blast from the city official who supervises elections isn’t helping matters.

Stephanie Singer is the chairman of the City Commission, the body that supervises, among other things, Philadelphia’s Board of Elections. In a normal city where such an office is a non-partisan or civil service post, it would be inconceivable that the person who is in charge of ensuring a fair vote would be involved in partisan politics, but when it comes to civics or ethics, Philadelphia remains mired in the bad old days of machine politics. Therefore, when the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Singer sent out an email blast urging citizens to vote to re-elect Barack Obama, the city of Brotherly Love merely shrugged. That Singer also went on in the email to claim that Judaism demands its adherents vote for the Democrats illustrates the way Jewish liberals have attempted to politicize their faith. But the willingness of the city to accept a situation where the elections commissioner is a rabid partisan tells us a lot about why there is so much distrust in Pennsylvania about the honesty of the elections system in the state’s largest city.

It should be stipulated that what Singer did is not illegal according to city law. She is herself a former Democratic ward leader who was elected to the post she now holds by defeating another longtime member of the party machine. As the Inquirer explains, her partisanship is not supposed to influence matters because in addition to the chair, the City Commission has both a Republican and a Democratic member. But such a scheme could only breed confidence in the system if a non-partisan chair supervised the two partisans. But since the system allows the majority party to be able to control the leadership of the commission, the result is 2-1 Democrat hegemony. It is hardly surprising that Republicans don’t feel the system guarantees fairness.

Singer has posed as a good-government type but even Zach Stolberg, a liberal and the former editor of the Philadelphia Daily News who heads the city’s election watchdog group, the Committee of Seventy, was dismayed by her action. Stolberg told the Inquirer, “It seems inappropriate for the person who runs elections in Philadelphia to have such a partisan message so close to the election.” That is the understatement of the year.

According to Singer’s email, the top issue facing the country is free birth control:

As a woman, and as a Jew, I am horrified at the prospect of Republican control of government. If you are glad to see me doing the work I am doing, please consider this: it would have been much harder to dedicate myself to work through my entire adult life to date if I had to either prepare for the prospect of unplanned motherhood or forego that natural, healthy source of joy and comfort, sex. Republican policies would keep women down by denying them affordable, safe birth control. This is bad for America.

While I’m sure everyone is very happy to know that Singer has not been deprived of the joy and comfort she sought, the issue she references has nothing to do with access to contraception. Rather it is the ObamaCare mandate that requires religious institutions and believers to pay for practices that their faith proscribes. The question there is not birth control, which may be obtained at any doctor’s office or drug store, but protecting the religious freedom of many Americans who have different views about sex than Ms. Singer.

As the Inquirer notes, she went on with more generalized arguments about the election and the two parties saying,

Her Jewish faith emphasized the “obligation to repair the world around us.” In contrast, she said, “Republicans deny responsibility — they like to use the phrase ‘personal responsibility,’ which means, ‘if a person fails it is that person’s fault.’ Republicans excuse themselves from the adverse effects of their policies on individuals.”

The mind boggles at such simple-minded theology and political theory but suffice to say that while Jews can be liberals or conservatives, Democrats or Republicans, if Judaism is anything, it is a faith that promotes personal responsibility. One can just as easily argue that the welfare state liberals constructed has done as much if not more harm to individuals, and that Democrats like Singer excuse themselves from the adverse effects of their policies on those who have become dependent on the system they created and the devastation it has wrought, especially in a city like Philadelphia where poverty remains endemic. The difference between the parties is not whether they want to help people, but how best to do so. On that, reasonable persons may differ, but the infusion of bowdlerized religion into the equation does nothing to promote understanding of the issues let alone civility.

It is bad enough for a garden-variety politician to indulge in this sort of low political discourse and partisan invective. But it is nothing short of a scandal for the person entrusted with the responsibility to ensure honest elections in the city to do so.

Throughout the past year, liberals have expressed incredulity at the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s charges that Philadelphia’s elections are crooked. Stephanie Singer has just given the lie to their claims of innocence.

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Voter ID: When Judges Play Politics

Liberals celebrated yesterday when the same Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge who upheld the state’s voter ID law in August reversed himself and enjoined its enforcement on Election Day. There’s no denying that this is a defeat for the legislature that passed the bill as well as the overwhelming majority of Americans who back ID laws as a commonsense measure to deter voter fraud. But frustrating as it is, it is but a temporary setback. Both Judge Robert Simpson and the state Supreme Court have indicated that the law is constitutional. Yet Simpson, like many another judge when asked to affirm legal principles that are under attack by influential liberal forces, wavered when put to the test.

When Pennsylvanians go to the polls next month, they will be still asked to identify themselves with a photo card. But, as was the case in April when the rules were rolled out during the state’s primary, no one will be denied a ballot, even if they have no such documentation. The left-wingers who sued to strike down the law claimed voters would be unfairly disenfranchised. Simpson did not fully accept their assertions, but rather than face the storm that fully upholding the law would bring down on his head, he said there was not enough time before the election to ensure “liberal access.” While this means it will still be possible this year for political machines to turn out fictitious voters without fear of being caught — a time-honored political tradition in Philadelphia — in the future such shenanigans will be more difficult.

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Liberals celebrated yesterday when the same Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge who upheld the state’s voter ID law in August reversed himself and enjoined its enforcement on Election Day. There’s no denying that this is a defeat for the legislature that passed the bill as well as the overwhelming majority of Americans who back ID laws as a commonsense measure to deter voter fraud. But frustrating as it is, it is but a temporary setback. Both Judge Robert Simpson and the state Supreme Court have indicated that the law is constitutional. Yet Simpson, like many another judge when asked to affirm legal principles that are under attack by influential liberal forces, wavered when put to the test.

When Pennsylvanians go to the polls next month, they will be still asked to identify themselves with a photo card. But, as was the case in April when the rules were rolled out during the state’s primary, no one will be denied a ballot, even if they have no such documentation. The left-wingers who sued to strike down the law claimed voters would be unfairly disenfranchised. Simpson did not fully accept their assertions, but rather than face the storm that fully upholding the law would bring down on his head, he said there was not enough time before the election to ensure “liberal access.” While this means it will still be possible this year for political machines to turn out fictitious voters without fear of being caught — a time-honored political tradition in Philadelphia — in the future such shenanigans will be more difficult.

At the heart of this case are a couple of fallacies. The plaintiffs and their myriad supporters in the mainstream liberal press continue to promote the idea that hordes of legal voters are going to be stopped from casting their ballots. But Simpson’s concerns about the fact that the state hadn’t already issued enough new free state IDs that can be used in place of a drivers’ license tells us something that many political analysts already knew. There has been no surge of voters demanding IDs, because the vast majority of Pennsylvanians already have them since they are necessary for virtually every possible transaction a citizen can make, as well as travel. But it is equally true that many of those few who don’t are the least likely to care about voting. Though the state embarked on a massive campaign of voter information via ads and mailings, the number of ID cards issued is far below the numbers the law’s opponents claimed needed one. That makes it likely that it is their estimates that are widely inflated.

Despite the talk of the state placing obstacles in the path of those who seek IDs, the evidence actually shows that in most cases anyone who really wants an ID can get one with a minimum of effort. That was proved, to the embarrassment of the law’s opponents, when the lady whose name still sits atop the decision as the lead plaintiff got her state photo ID. Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old woman who had marched with Martin Luther King Jr. for civil rights, was the ideal symbol of the effort to brand voter ID as a new version of Jim Crow. But all she had to do get an ID was to was to stroll into a DMV branch office and ask for one.

At bottom, the attempt to strike down the law isn’t a defense of genuine voting rights. After all, what could be more reasonable than requiring a person who presents themselves at the polls to show they are who they say they are. The law’s opponents are stuck in a logical dead-end in which they are effectively asserting that no questions should ever be asked of a potential voter, even if they are not registered, registered in another district or state or even not a citizen–they should just be allowed to vote. They claim there is no such thing as voter fraud in the U.S., a proposition that requires us to forget everything we know about American political history and human nature, but seem to have as their only purpose the enabling of such fraud.

But it would have taken a judge with more intestinal fortitude than Robert Simpson to point this out. Like U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who conjured up an absurd rationale for affirming the constitutionality of ObamaCare this past June so as to dodge the charge that the court was being political, Simpson also sought an expedient compromise in which he could affirm a legal principle without actually defending it.

This sorry chapter proves again that courage is the most important of all the virtues, since in its absence it is impossible to uphold the others. When judges play politics in this manner, they may think they are evading criticism but what they are really doing is bringing the legal system into disrepute.

In the future, Pennsylvania will have a voter ID law, since it will not be possible in 2014 or 2016 for even the most cowardly of judges to claim that the state needs more time to implement a law that is clearly constitutional. The same will probably be true of other states where liberals have sought to stop the laws through the courts. But in the meantime, it will be business as usual for those who seek to cheat and those determined to enable such practices.

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Left Turns Voting Rights Into a Farce

Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama sounded a battle cry at a Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner when she said protecting the right to vote is the nation’s most important civil rights issue. If that were true, that would mean there no credible civil rights concerns in the country. What Obama was talking about was the effort by Democrats to prevent the implementation of laws requiring voters to present a photo ID when casting their ballots. The common sense measure has the support of the overwhelming majority of Americans. They understand that cheating is baked into the DNA of our political parties and see nothing unreasonable about requiring someone to do the same thing as when they wish to board a plane, a train, open a bank account or buy a beer or a cigarette: prove they are who they say there are. Mrs. Obama’s attempt to demagogue this issue is the backdrop for false liberal arguments that voter ID legislation is the modern version of the Jim Crow laws of the segregation era. Those claims are currently being adjudicated in Pennsylvania, where a judge has until Tuesday to decide whether the state’s voter ID law should be thrown out.

In August, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson, Jr. threw out the challenge when he said that while he was sympathetic to those who claimed they had difficulty acquiring a photo ID, there was no proof of disenfranchisement. That ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court, which has now kicked the case back to him and hearings were again held this week to determine whether the state is acting appropriately. Though the state has loosened the already lenient requirements to get a state card, the judge hinted that he might give in to pressure from liberal groups and grant an injunction to block its implementation. If so, it will undermine attempts to ensure voter integrity.

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Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama sounded a battle cry at a Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner when she said protecting the right to vote is the nation’s most important civil rights issue. If that were true, that would mean there no credible civil rights concerns in the country. What Obama was talking about was the effort by Democrats to prevent the implementation of laws requiring voters to present a photo ID when casting their ballots. The common sense measure has the support of the overwhelming majority of Americans. They understand that cheating is baked into the DNA of our political parties and see nothing unreasonable about requiring someone to do the same thing as when they wish to board a plane, a train, open a bank account or buy a beer or a cigarette: prove they are who they say there are. Mrs. Obama’s attempt to demagogue this issue is the backdrop for false liberal arguments that voter ID legislation is the modern version of the Jim Crow laws of the segregation era. Those claims are currently being adjudicated in Pennsylvania, where a judge has until Tuesday to decide whether the state’s voter ID law should be thrown out.

In August, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson, Jr. threw out the challenge when he said that while he was sympathetic to those who claimed they had difficulty acquiring a photo ID, there was no proof of disenfranchisement. That ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court, which has now kicked the case back to him and hearings were again held this week to determine whether the state is acting appropriately. Though the state has loosened the already lenient requirements to get a state card, the judge hinted that he might give in to pressure from liberal groups and grant an injunction to block its implementation. If so, it will undermine attempts to ensure voter integrity.

Conspicuous by her absence from the second round in front of Judge Simpson was the lead plaintiff from the initial hearings back during the summer. At that time, opponents of voter ID heralded the participation in their suit of 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite, a woman who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. Ms. Applewhite didn’t have a birth certificate or a drivers license and might have been prevented from voting. But as I wrote last month, Ms. Applewhite subsequently undermined the voter ID challenge by strolling into a Department of Motor Vehicles office, explaining her problem and emerging a short while later proudly displaying her new state photo ID as a somewhat disappointed reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer looked on. The Inquirer had hoped to document the difficulties of getting an ID, but they had instead proved just how easy it was.

Ms. Applewhite incurred the wrath of her erstwhile leftist sympathizers for ditching them but she has been replaced with others with their own exceptional stories to engage the judge’s sympathy. No doubt, they have also been instructed to on no account use some common sense and do as Applewhite did and resolve their problem without the help of liberal lawyers with a political axe to grind.

At stake here is a the principle that voters ought to be able to verify they are who they say there as well as being residents of the district where they seek to cast their ballots, not to mention being citizens. As an elderly African-American like Ms. Applewhite proved, minorities and senior citizens are fully capable of dealing with this challenge and the state has shown it is ready to bend over backwards to help anyone who really wants to vote.

The vast majority of Americans, including most members of minority groups, have photo IDs. Those who don’t can get them free of charge from the state. Those without them can cast provisional ballots that will not be invalidated unless they cannot subsequently prove their identity. The idea that this uncomplicated law is a new version of “Jim Crow” drains that term of any meaning. Liberals have redefined “voting rights” to mean something different from what it did half a century ago. Then it meant depriving people of the right to vote on the basis of race. Now it means defending the right of any person who can’t prove their identities or citizenship to vote illegally. Mrs. Obama and the left have turned a sacred cause into a farce.

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Not Getting the Dem Memo on Voter Fraud

For most of this year, Democrats have been furiously asserting that Voter ID laws are not only racist but also unnecessary. They have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to make the case that requiring someone to present proof of their identity or citizenship while attempting to vote is the moral equivalent of segregationist “Jim Crow” laws. That is patently false, but they have also claimed that efforts to curb cheating in elections are not needed because there is no such thing as voter fraud in the United States. But apparently one Democratic congressional candidate didn’t get the memo.

Wendy Rosen, the Democrat who was nominated to run in Maryland’s 1stCongressional District, withdrew from the race against a Republican incumbent after it was revealed that she had personally committed vote fraud in 2008. Apparently, Rosen voted in both Maryland and in Florida in both 2006 and 2008. Voting in more than one state is just one form of such fraud, but it is both easy and possibly quite commonplace. But as a candidate, Rosen’s double dip was discovered and now the Democrats are stuck without a viable candidate in the district since it is no longer possible for them to put someone else on the ballot. But the issue here is bigger than their already dim prospects for taking the seat or even whether Rosen will be, as she should be, subjected to prosecution. It is the absurdity of Democrats around the nation spending months telling us that such fraud is unheard of when not only is it quite common but also was committed by one of their own candidates.

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For most of this year, Democrats have been furiously asserting that Voter ID laws are not only racist but also unnecessary. They have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to make the case that requiring someone to present proof of their identity or citizenship while attempting to vote is the moral equivalent of segregationist “Jim Crow” laws. That is patently false, but they have also claimed that efforts to curb cheating in elections are not needed because there is no such thing as voter fraud in the United States. But apparently one Democratic congressional candidate didn’t get the memo.

Wendy Rosen, the Democrat who was nominated to run in Maryland’s 1stCongressional District, withdrew from the race against a Republican incumbent after it was revealed that she had personally committed vote fraud in 2008. Apparently, Rosen voted in both Maryland and in Florida in both 2006 and 2008. Voting in more than one state is just one form of such fraud, but it is both easy and possibly quite commonplace. But as a candidate, Rosen’s double dip was discovered and now the Democrats are stuck without a viable candidate in the district since it is no longer possible for them to put someone else on the ballot. But the issue here is bigger than their already dim prospects for taking the seat or even whether Rosen will be, as she should be, subjected to prosecution. It is the absurdity of Democrats around the nation spending months telling us that such fraud is unheard of when not only is it quite common but also was committed by one of their own candidates.

Admittedly, voter ID laws won’t prevent voting in more than one state. But it can prevent party machines from stuffing ballot boxes with the illegal votes of unregistered citizens or illegal aliens. It also will make it harder for politicians to employ those who might be inclined to try and vote in more than one district as opposed to a state.

As I have written before, in order to believe Democratic talking points about voter fraud, you have to ignore everything we know about American political history, politicians, parties and human nature. If there is a way to cheat, partisans will find it and employ it until caught. Though Democrats claim it doesn’t happen, we know neither party trusts each other to act in good faith on these issues (as the debacle in Florida in 2000 proved). And now one of their own congressional candidates has helpfully provided an example of how tempting it is for them to cheat.

Providing the country with fair and honest elections is a compelling government interest and most Americans rightly believe asking them to show an ID when they vote–an ID they would need to travel, conduct any transaction with the government or a bank, or to buy a beer–is inherently reasonable. And now we can thank Wendy Rosen for proof of why they think this way.

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Texas Voter ID Case Determined by Past, Not Present Discrimination

The Obama administration won a victory today in their campaign to strike down voter ID laws. Only days after the United States District Court for the District of Columbia invalidated Texas’s new congressional and legislative districts, the same court struck down the state’s voter ID law. The court accepted the Justice Department’s arguments that the bill placed an undue burden on poor and minority voters. Texas has said it will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and its attorney general says he can prevail there because the court has previously ruled that voter ID laws are constitutional. State courts have upheld a voter ID law in Pennsylvania but Texas’ problem is that because of its past history of racial discrimination, it must get federal approval for anything relating to voting rights. But those looking for the Supremes to reinforce their previous decision on voter ID may be disappointed. The issue at stake in the Texas case will be the constitutionality of the federal Voting Rights Act that gives Washington the power to oversee the state’s laws rather than voter ID itself.

In states not affected by the Voting Rights Act, courts can weigh efforts to prevent fraud on their own merits. The overwhelming majority of Americans back voter ID laws because they are inherently reasonable. If you need a picture ID to board an airplane, an Amtrak train, conduct even the most simple transaction with the government or a bank as well as buy a beer, most people rightly think that you should have to do as much to vote. Given that, contrary to fallacious Democratic talking points, voter fraud has always been a concern in American politics; the courts have upheld such laws as both prudent and obviously constitutional.

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The Obama administration won a victory today in their campaign to strike down voter ID laws. Only days after the United States District Court for the District of Columbia invalidated Texas’s new congressional and legislative districts, the same court struck down the state’s voter ID law. The court accepted the Justice Department’s arguments that the bill placed an undue burden on poor and minority voters. Texas has said it will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and its attorney general says he can prevail there because the court has previously ruled that voter ID laws are constitutional. State courts have upheld a voter ID law in Pennsylvania but Texas’ problem is that because of its past history of racial discrimination, it must get federal approval for anything relating to voting rights. But those looking for the Supremes to reinforce their previous decision on voter ID may be disappointed. The issue at stake in the Texas case will be the constitutionality of the federal Voting Rights Act that gives Washington the power to oversee the state’s laws rather than voter ID itself.

In states not affected by the Voting Rights Act, courts can weigh efforts to prevent fraud on their own merits. The overwhelming majority of Americans back voter ID laws because they are inherently reasonable. If you need a picture ID to board an airplane, an Amtrak train, conduct even the most simple transaction with the government or a bank as well as buy a beer, most people rightly think that you should have to do as much to vote. Given that, contrary to fallacious Democratic talking points, voter fraud has always been a concern in American politics; the courts have upheld such laws as both prudent and obviously constitutional.

But under the Voting Rights Act, anything that even inadvertently affects minority voters, even if the purpose is constitutional and the impact incidental can be construed as a violation of the law. Thus, attorneys for Texas were given the impossible task of being forced to defend their state against a hypothetical assertion that could not be definitively disproved. Only a Supreme Court decision striking down the entire Voting Rights Act can prevent the Obama administration from stopping voter ID in Texas.

Proponents of voter ID can rightly assert that any comparison such as that made by Attorney General Holder that these bills are “Jim Crow laws” is an outrageous distortion of the truth. Minority voters are just as capable of getting themselves a free state ID card, as are whites. Anyone capable of registering to vote can do so. Unless opponents of these laws are prepared to argue that officials have no right to ask a prospective voter to prove his identity or even his citizenship, the charge of discrimination doesn’t hold water.

But the bottom line in the Texas case is that since it is unlikely that the Supreme Court will strike down the entire Voting Rights Act, the administration will be able to stop voter ID in the Lone Star State. Though Holder claimed the state was discriminating against minorities the case was determined by past injustices, not proof of present day bias. A true test of the constitutionality of such laws will have to wait for other challenges to make their way to the high court.

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The Left’s Race Dog Whistles

Some Republicans may be shocked and confused that Democrats are seizing on any mention of welfare or immigration or any other legitimate political issue that can be described as racism. They shouldn’t be. Democrats have been howling about “coded language” and “dog whistles” all year, as well as making race-based complaints about voter ID laws. But lately they have become less subtle as Vice President Joe Biden’s threat that Republicans want to “put y’all back in chains” to a mostly black audience indicated. The hysteria on the left on this point has become particularly intense this week, as the Republican National Convention has served as a convenient target for commentators like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews who have become nearly unhinged trying to prove that Republicans are appealing to racism.

But if anyone is determined to keep race on the minds of Americans it is the Democrats. The obsessive search for hidden racism in Republican rhetoric isn’t merely because, as Mickey Kaus noted today on his blog, they “simply have race on the brain.” It’s because waving the bloody shirt of the fight against segregation is their only way of recapturing the magic of 2008, in which Americans took pride in voting for Barack Obama because doing so was a way to take part in a historic achievement. After four years of presidential futility, it’s not possible to make voters buy into another round of “hope and change.” But it is still possible to make independents and wavering Democrats think voting Republican will undo the progress that Obama’s election signaled.

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Some Republicans may be shocked and confused that Democrats are seizing on any mention of welfare or immigration or any other legitimate political issue that can be described as racism. They shouldn’t be. Democrats have been howling about “coded language” and “dog whistles” all year, as well as making race-based complaints about voter ID laws. But lately they have become less subtle as Vice President Joe Biden’s threat that Republicans want to “put y’all back in chains” to a mostly black audience indicated. The hysteria on the left on this point has become particularly intense this week, as the Republican National Convention has served as a convenient target for commentators like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews who have become nearly unhinged trying to prove that Republicans are appealing to racism.

But if anyone is determined to keep race on the minds of Americans it is the Democrats. The obsessive search for hidden racism in Republican rhetoric isn’t merely because, as Mickey Kaus noted today on his blog, they “simply have race on the brain.” It’s because waving the bloody shirt of the fight against segregation is their only way of recapturing the magic of 2008, in which Americans took pride in voting for Barack Obama because doing so was a way to take part in a historic achievement. After four years of presidential futility, it’s not possible to make voters buy into another round of “hope and change.” But it is still possible to make independents and wavering Democrats think voting Republican will undo the progress that Obama’s election signaled.

The welfare argument is particularly disingenuous, but it is being treated as a license to engage in the most vicious rhetoric imaginable against the GOP. Hence, Matthews’s television tirades and, to seize upon just one of many possible examples, Joan Walsh’s accusation today at Salon that Rick Santorum engaged in “race baiting,” “lying” and “creepiness” during his convention speech because of his mentioning of the welfare issue and the president’s decision to stop the enforcement of some immigration laws.

But the liberal claim, repeated as gospel not only on the opinion pages of the mainstream media but on their news pages as well, is that Republicans are lying about Obama’s changes in the Welfare Reform Act. They insist that he changed nothing and that the GOP charges that he gutted welfare-to-work regulations are fabrications. But the truth, as Kaus noted, is much closer to the Republican narrative than that of the Democrats. It’s true that, as they have repeated endlessly on MSNBC, all Obama did was to give states flexibility in enforcing the law. But taking away such flexibility was the whole point of the movement to reform welfare that culminated in the passage of the act that was signed by Bill Clinton. Obama’s changes will allow states to eliminate work requirements. That’s a fair point and has nothing to do with racism.

But to treat any mention of welfare as a code word for black is a sign of the liberals’ plantation mentality, not that of conservatives. The assumption that welfare equals black is not only factually incorrect — more whites receive such assistance than blacks — it is an insult.

That fits in with the Democrats’ efforts to treat voter ID laws aimed at combating fraud as the next generation of “Jim Crow,” since they assume that minorities are not as capable as whites of obtaining the photo ID that is needed for virtually every other transaction required by society.

Far from the Republicans wanting to talk about race, it is only in the interest of the Democrats to reopen these old wounds. That’s also why the left is going all out to discredit any black person who dares to oppose Obama. Hence the deluge of abuse being showered today on Utah Republican Mia B. Love as well as Democrat turncoat Artur Davis, both of whom wowed the nation with their convention addresses last night.

No American racist was likely to vote for Obama in November with or without a helpful reminder from either party that he was African-American. But plenty of moderates otherwise inclined to support Romney may be scared away from the Republicans by false charges that the GOP is appealing to race. The only dog whistles today being sounded are all from the left, as Democrats desperately attempt to convince Americans that it is still their duty to vote again for Obama.

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The Jim Crow Lie Debunked Again

Last week, liberals were dealt a cruel blow when a Pennsylvania court refused to grant an injunction prohibiting the Keystone State from implementing its voter ID law in November. The opponents of the legislation, who alleged that hundreds of thousands of citizens would be prohibited from voting, failed to show why a clearly constitutional measure aimed at preserving the integrity of the process should be thrown out, sending the state election machinery into chaos. However, the opponents of voter ID did gain some sympathy with both the judge and the public by highlighting the plight of the lead plaintiff in the suit, 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite. Ms. Applewhite, who once marched with Martin Luther King Jr., didn’t have a valid photo ID or for some reason, a Social Security card, and the name on her birth certificate didn’t match the one on other documents so in theory she lacked the proof needed to get the free photo ID the state is offering to non-drivers who want to vote. Ms. Applewhite’s predicament seem to bolster the argument that voter ID was a new version of segregationist “Jim Crow” laws. That was enough to get her picture on the front page of the New York Times last week in an article intended to bolster voter ID opponents case.

But it turns out the state machinery for helping such exceptional cases is not, as Democrats claimed, devoted to suppressing the vote. Last week, Ms. Applewhite, accompanied by a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer showed up at Department of Motor Vehicles office in the city and asked for a photo ID. She got one with no fuss and without any evidence that the clerks there had any idea who she was (perhaps civil service employees are too busy there to read the Times or other newspapers). Ms. Applewhite was delighted and said it showed that all you need to succeed is “to just keep trying.” She’s right but her erstwhile sponsors were not so pleased as community activists challenging the law reacted with cynicism and disappointment to learn that their claim that the law was intended to arbitrarily prevent honest citizens from voting was effectively debunked. But that hasn’t stopped Democrats from continuing to cast aspersions on the law as racist and to pretend that there is no such thing as voter fraud, even in Philadelphia.

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Last week, liberals were dealt a cruel blow when a Pennsylvania court refused to grant an injunction prohibiting the Keystone State from implementing its voter ID law in November. The opponents of the legislation, who alleged that hundreds of thousands of citizens would be prohibited from voting, failed to show why a clearly constitutional measure aimed at preserving the integrity of the process should be thrown out, sending the state election machinery into chaos. However, the opponents of voter ID did gain some sympathy with both the judge and the public by highlighting the plight of the lead plaintiff in the suit, 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite. Ms. Applewhite, who once marched with Martin Luther King Jr., didn’t have a valid photo ID or for some reason, a Social Security card, and the name on her birth certificate didn’t match the one on other documents so in theory she lacked the proof needed to get the free photo ID the state is offering to non-drivers who want to vote. Ms. Applewhite’s predicament seem to bolster the argument that voter ID was a new version of segregationist “Jim Crow” laws. That was enough to get her picture on the front page of the New York Times last week in an article intended to bolster voter ID opponents case.

But it turns out the state machinery for helping such exceptional cases is not, as Democrats claimed, devoted to suppressing the vote. Last week, Ms. Applewhite, accompanied by a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer showed up at Department of Motor Vehicles office in the city and asked for a photo ID. She got one with no fuss and without any evidence that the clerks there had any idea who she was (perhaps civil service employees are too busy there to read the Times or other newspapers). Ms. Applewhite was delighted and said it showed that all you need to succeed is “to just keep trying.” She’s right but her erstwhile sponsors were not so pleased as community activists challenging the law reacted with cynicism and disappointment to learn that their claim that the law was intended to arbitrarily prevent honest citizens from voting was effectively debunked. But that hasn’t stopped Democrats from continuing to cast aspersions on the law as racist and to pretend that there is no such thing as voter fraud, even in Philadelphia.

On that latter point, I have pointed out in past posts that one of the primary motivations for the passage of the law in the Pennsylvania legislature last year was the fact that it is common knowledge that voter fraud in Philadelphia isn’t so much endemic as it is institutionalized. Several precincts in the city where turnout is normally light have reported vote totals that exceed the number of registered voters, a feat that is impossible to explain without bringing up the term fraud. It’s true that these events haven’t been investigated or prosecuted by local authorities, a point that is presented by voter ID opponents as proof that such activities are the invention of Republicans. But the explanation for the failure of the district attorneys in question to pursue the matter isn’t complicated: they are dependent on the same Democratic machine responsible for the shady vote totals to get elected to their own office.

Over at National Review, John Fund has gone deeper into the subject and the result is a comprehensive portrait of the recent record of voter fraud in the city and state. It’s a must read.

Americans support voter ID laws because they understand that they are inherently reasonable. You need a photo ID to travel, buy a beer or conduct the simplest of transactions with a bank or the government. Indeed, rather than the onus being on voter ID proponents, opponents of the law have yet to say why they think it’s okay for someone to be able to show up and vote without proof of their identity or even citizenship.

In the no-holds barred atmosphere of a presidential election, partisans are liable to say anything about their foes so perhaps we shouldn’t be shocked at the willingness of Democrats to engage in racial incitement on this issue. But most Americans aren’t buying it. As for Viviette Applewhite, she’s free to vote for whomever she wants this November. Anyone else, be they black or white, who is willing to make a minimal effort, will be able to say the same.

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Democrat Ploy Fails as PA Voter ID Upheld

Democrats who have been leading a campaign against voter ID laws had their sights set on Pennsylvania, where they felt they had a good chance to have legislation passed last year thrown out by the courts. Liberal activists held rallies in Philadelphia and have been asserting that the bill approved by the Republican-controlled legislature is nothing more than a recycled “Jim Crow” law. But the attempt to trash the Keystone State’s voter ID requirement failed today when a Commonwealth Court judge in the state capital threw out the challenge. Judge Robert E. Simpson, Jr. issued a 70-page decision this morning in Harrisburg that stated the plaintiffs failed to prove their case that asking voters to identify themselves with a government-issued photo card would mean disenfranchisement and therefore denied an injunction that would have meant the law could not be enforced this year.

Simpson ruled that the voter ID opponents had not established that “disenfranchisement was immediate or inevitable” and also made clear that trashing the law less than 90 days from the election would throw a monkey wrench into the state’s election system. While he expressed sympathy with those who said they would be prevented from voting, the voter ID law was constitutional. The decision creates a problem for state Democrats who have been counting on the courts to strike down the law and therefore absolve them from the task of seeing that their voters are legally registered and have proper identification when they go to the polls in November. Though liberals around the country have accused Pennsylvania Republicans of trying to steal the presidential election via the voter ID law, the law’s survival now puts the onus on the Democrats to mobilize their base without resorting to any of the tricks that helped the GOP pass the bill in the first place.

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Democrats who have been leading a campaign against voter ID laws had their sights set on Pennsylvania, where they felt they had a good chance to have legislation passed last year thrown out by the courts. Liberal activists held rallies in Philadelphia and have been asserting that the bill approved by the Republican-controlled legislature is nothing more than a recycled “Jim Crow” law. But the attempt to trash the Keystone State’s voter ID requirement failed today when a Commonwealth Court judge in the state capital threw out the challenge. Judge Robert E. Simpson, Jr. issued a 70-page decision this morning in Harrisburg that stated the plaintiffs failed to prove their case that asking voters to identify themselves with a government-issued photo card would mean disenfranchisement and therefore denied an injunction that would have meant the law could not be enforced this year.

Simpson ruled that the voter ID opponents had not established that “disenfranchisement was immediate or inevitable” and also made clear that trashing the law less than 90 days from the election would throw a monkey wrench into the state’s election system. While he expressed sympathy with those who said they would be prevented from voting, the voter ID law was constitutional. The decision creates a problem for state Democrats who have been counting on the courts to strike down the law and therefore absolve them from the task of seeing that their voters are legally registered and have proper identification when they go to the polls in November. Though liberals around the country have accused Pennsylvania Republicans of trying to steal the presidential election via the voter ID law, the law’s survival now puts the onus on the Democrats to mobilize their base without resorting to any of the tricks that helped the GOP pass the bill in the first place.

Mike Turzai, the Republican Majority Leader of the state’s House of Representatives, was lambasted for saying that the law would ensure that Mitt Romney would win in Pennsylvania this fall. This was taken as an indication that the GOP’s goal was voter suppression. But though the national media continues to insist that there is no such thing as voter fraud, voter ID was passed in Pennsylvania because of a widespread belief that cheating was merely business as usual in Philadelphia. The state’s largest city routinely produces big majorities for the Democrats but the fact that some election districts in the city have been known to produce result that tallied more than 100 percent of the number of registered voters fostered suspicions about how such a feat could be achieved without fraud.

The plaintiffs thought the story of 93-year-old Vivian Applewhite would sway the judge, but it didn’t work. Applewhite, who marched for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr., is a sympathetic figure. She doesn’t have a drivers’ license and says the state has lost her birth certificate and therefore wasn’t able to get the free ID card Pennsylvania is offering non-drivers. But the state can find ways to accommodate her and other exceptional cases without trashing a law that most voters believe is mere common sense. As I wrote yesterday, it was no surprise to learn via a Washington Post poll that nearly three-quarters of Americans support voter ID laws.

The answer to worries about voter turnout is for the parties and the state to increase efforts to register voters. The “Jim Crow” canard is based on the false assumption that minorities aren’t up to dealing with the same burden of registering and obtaining an identification card as well as everyone else. The court rightly said this assertion is unproved and that the NAACP and other plaintiffs are unlikely to prevail in a full trial. The Supreme Court has already ruled that asking voters to prove their identity is both reasonable and constitutional. There were no grounds for Simpson to tell the state to return to a situation where anyone can simply show up and vote without being able to prove their identity or even their citizenship.

This means that instead of raising bogus claims of racism, Pennsylvania Democrats will have to attempt the more difficult job of seeing that their supporters are registered. It may well be that Turzai’s optimism about the Republicans chances of taking the state in November was unfounded. But if the Democrats win this time, they will have to do it by playing by the rules.

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Why Do Voters Back ID? Common Sense

Liberals have spent most of the year trying to convince Americans that voter ID laws are a false front for racist voter suppression. They argue there’s no such thing as voter fraud and that legislation aimed at combating election cheating is merely a Republican plot to steal the election. But, as a new Washington Post poll on the subject demonstrates, the majority aren’t buying it. Almost three quarters — 74 percent — believe voters should be required to show official, government-issued identification when they vote. A clear majority of those polled also think, contrary to liberal allegations, that voter ID laws are rooted in concern about a genuine problem.

These numbers have to concern Democrats who are hoping to whip up a backlash against voter ID legislation by falsely claiming they are a new form of “Jim Crow” laws intended to foster discrimination. Indeed, given the drumbeat of incitement against voter ID laws in the mainstream media, you have to wonder why there is so much resistance to the liberal line on this topic. The answer, however, is quite simple. The public knows that claims that voter fraud is nonexistent run counter to everything they know about politicians, elections and human nature.

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Liberals have spent most of the year trying to convince Americans that voter ID laws are a false front for racist voter suppression. They argue there’s no such thing as voter fraud and that legislation aimed at combating election cheating is merely a Republican plot to steal the election. But, as a new Washington Post poll on the subject demonstrates, the majority aren’t buying it. Almost three quarters — 74 percent — believe voters should be required to show official, government-issued identification when they vote. A clear majority of those polled also think, contrary to liberal allegations, that voter ID laws are rooted in concern about a genuine problem.

These numbers have to concern Democrats who are hoping to whip up a backlash against voter ID legislation by falsely claiming they are a new form of “Jim Crow” laws intended to foster discrimination. Indeed, given the drumbeat of incitement against voter ID laws in the mainstream media, you have to wonder why there is so much resistance to the liberal line on this topic. The answer, however, is quite simple. The public knows that claims that voter fraud is nonexistent run counter to everything they know about politicians, elections and human nature.

The huge numbers supporting voter ID isn’t hard to figure out. Anyone who travels or has to conduct any sort of transaction with a bank or the government know they are going to be asked to identify themselves in this manner. The notion that something as important as voting should be exempt from such a requirement makes no sense to most people.

And though a not insignificant number worry about voters being discouraged or wrongly having their franchise denied, far more understand it is more likely that politicians and parties are looking to find a way to cook the books and steal a close election than their right to vote will somehow be taken away.

After all, the vast majority of Americans already have a state-issued card with a photo, and states that have passed voter ID laws have made provisions for those without them to get one free of charge. They also know it is no harder to get one of these free ID cards than it is to register to vote in the first place. They rightly wonder why it is some think there is something sinister in having a voter prove they are eligible to vote, because it appears as if opponents of voter ID seem to be taking the position that citizens should never be asked to produce proof of residence in a state, city or district or even that they are actually American citizens. Interestingly enough, as the Post notes in their own analysis of the poll, a solid majority of both the elderly and the poor — groups it is believed will be impacted by such laws — also support voter ID.

The problem for liberals is their repeated claim that voter fraud never happens is given the lie by the controversies that bubble up every time there is a close election. Neither Republicans nor Democrats trust each other not to cheat, as the debacle of Florida in 2000 and the fight about paperless touch screen voting machines showed.

Inclusion is important, which is why states and the parties should promote voter registration drives to ensure that every qualified citizen who wishes to vote has the opportunity. But it is no less important than the need to ensure that our elections are fair and honest. The Post poll demonstrates that when it comes to fraud, most people weren’t born yesterday. They realize that protecting democracy requires vigilance against both exclusion and cheating.

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Registration, Not ID Laws is Vote Obstacle

As part of their effort to derail voter ID laws, liberals treat it as a given that there is no such thing as voter fraud in this country any more. Doing so requires a leap of faith that requires one to ignore American political history as well as human nature, but that hasn’t stopped Democrats from waiving the bloody shirt of Jim Crow in order to convince the public and the courts that what voter ID advocates are doing is a new form of discrimination. The New York Times editorial page has been in the forefront of those taking this disingenuous line of argument, but Ethan Bronner, their former Israel bureau chief, has written an interesting piece for their news pages that places the controversy in a more coherent frame of reference.

While not taking sides in the ID debate, Bronner mentions what many of those who have been saying about the need for voting integrity laws. The debacle of Florida in 2000 shows neither party trusts the other, and the closer the election the more likely it is that “chicanery” will be employed by one or both sides. Some of the arguments put forward by opponents of voter ID laws about large numbers of voters being disenfranchised are closer to myths than truths. He also points out that there may be large numbers of people voting in more than one state, as many are registered in two places. Most important, he gets at something–that those crying wolf about discrimination are ignoring the real problem: the need to put more effort into registering voters as most of those who might theoretically be excluded by voter ID laws have filed to register in the first place.

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As part of their effort to derail voter ID laws, liberals treat it as a given that there is no such thing as voter fraud in this country any more. Doing so requires a leap of faith that requires one to ignore American political history as well as human nature, but that hasn’t stopped Democrats from waiving the bloody shirt of Jim Crow in order to convince the public and the courts that what voter ID advocates are doing is a new form of discrimination. The New York Times editorial page has been in the forefront of those taking this disingenuous line of argument, but Ethan Bronner, their former Israel bureau chief, has written an interesting piece for their news pages that places the controversy in a more coherent frame of reference.

While not taking sides in the ID debate, Bronner mentions what many of those who have been saying about the need for voting integrity laws. The debacle of Florida in 2000 shows neither party trusts the other, and the closer the election the more likely it is that “chicanery” will be employed by one or both sides. Some of the arguments put forward by opponents of voter ID laws about large numbers of voters being disenfranchised are closer to myths than truths. He also points out that there may be large numbers of people voting in more than one state, as many are registered in two places. Most important, he gets at something–that those crying wolf about discrimination are ignoring the real problem: the need to put more effort into registering voters as most of those who might theoretically be excluded by voter ID laws have filed to register in the first place.

In 2005, a bipartisan panel found that 140,000 Florida voters were also registered in other states. Some 60,000 people are also registered in both North and South Carolina. Liberal absentee voting laws have made it possible for these people to vote twice in a national election with no way, not even photo ID, to stop them from doing so. The commission, which was led by Jimmy Carter and James Baker, recommended, among other things, a paper trial for electronic voting machines as well as uniform voter ID requirements. As the executive director of the Carter-Baker commission mentions in the article, only half of eligible voters in the country are registered, and few of them lack photo IDs. The obstacle to voter participation in this country is registration, not a GOP plot to suppress the minority vote.

Both parties ought to follow the Carter-Baker recommendations and work to increase voter registration while also ensuring the integrity of the vote. So long as Democrats keep pretending there is no such thing as fraud, Republican suspicions that urban political machines are manufacturing false totals (such as the infamous results in some Philadelphia precincts where vote totals have exceeded the number of registered voters) or allowing felons or non-citizens to vote will fester. Instead of trying to re-open the wounds of the civil rights era via the Jim Crow canard, Democrats should be putting their energy behind voter registration programs that can ensure no one is disenfranchised and cheating is kept to a minimum.

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No Vote Fraud? Union Didn’t Get The Memo

In recent weeks, opponents of voter ID laws have escalated their attacks on the measures by claiming the common sense requirement that a voter be able to identify him or herself at the polls is a new form of Jim Crow. But because the measure applies equally to everyone and the Supreme Court has ruled such laws are constitutional, their charges have more to do with inciting racial discord than actually affirming the right to vote. At the same time, others are seeking to undermine the entire premise of voter ID advocates by claiming there is no such thing as voter fraud in the United States. That’s the conceit of a piece in the Daily Beast today that repeats the charge made by liberal and Democratic foes of the laws that there is no evidence of voter fraud going on anywhere in the country.

But on the same day the Daily Beast piece was published, evidence surfaced that union officials in Wisconsin have been subpoenaed in an investigation of, you guessed it, voter fraud. As the Washington Free Beacon reports, the DA’s office demanded the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) hand over records that relate to the conduct of their officials who may have voted in the city earlier this year while using a Marriott hotel as a residence and using out of state IDs. The Wisconsin legislature passed a photo ID law, but state courts have blocked its enforcement, so the lack of such a requirement and a same day registration process makes it easy for anyone, including those who aren’t legally qualified to vote there, to cast a ballot. All of which makes a good argument for exactly the laws liberals tell us are not only racist but also unnecessary.

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In recent weeks, opponents of voter ID laws have escalated their attacks on the measures by claiming the common sense requirement that a voter be able to identify him or herself at the polls is a new form of Jim Crow. But because the measure applies equally to everyone and the Supreme Court has ruled such laws are constitutional, their charges have more to do with inciting racial discord than actually affirming the right to vote. At the same time, others are seeking to undermine the entire premise of voter ID advocates by claiming there is no such thing as voter fraud in the United States. That’s the conceit of a piece in the Daily Beast today that repeats the charge made by liberal and Democratic foes of the laws that there is no evidence of voter fraud going on anywhere in the country.

But on the same day the Daily Beast piece was published, evidence surfaced that union officials in Wisconsin have been subpoenaed in an investigation of, you guessed it, voter fraud. As the Washington Free Beacon reports, the DA’s office demanded the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) hand over records that relate to the conduct of their officials who may have voted in the city earlier this year while using a Marriott hotel as a residence and using out of state IDs. The Wisconsin legislature passed a photo ID law, but state courts have blocked its enforcement, so the lack of such a requirement and a same day registration process makes it easy for anyone, including those who aren’t legally qualified to vote there, to cast a ballot. All of which makes a good argument for exactly the laws liberals tell us are not only racist but also unnecessary.

While the Daily Beast tells us that a voter is more likely to be struck by lightening than commit fraud, that conclusion doesn’t hold up when you consider that several Philadelphia precincts have reported vote totals in heavily Democratic districts that exceeded 100 percent of the tally of registered voters. It was that practice that motivated the Pennsylvania legislature to pass a voter ID law there. Moreover, the idea that fraud is unheard of not only contradicts much of American political history but also an elementary knowledge of human nature which tells us that where there is something to be gained (such as the unions’ hope that Governor Scott Walker would be defeated in a recall election), people will cheat if they think they can get away with it. That’s especially true when the stakes are as high as they are in many elections.

Believing that the concept of voter fraud is itself a fraud only requires that you ignore what happened in Wisconsin or the routine trickery that remains a standard part of election hijinks any time or place that politicians believe no one is watching. Given the unfortunate timing of the Daily Beast piece, opponents of voter ID laws will probably do better sticking to specious allegations of racism than by pretending that cheating is a myth.

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Voter ID and 100+ Percent Turnout in Philly

The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson gets on his favorite hobbyhorse today when he claims again in his column that voter ID laws are nothing more than a manifestation of racism. But in doing so, he demonstrates either his ignorance or his partisanship. Robinson and other liberals have long alleged that Republican support for laws intended to curb voter fraud are simply a way of suppressing the black vote for Democrats. To back this up, he seized on a statement made by Mike Turzai, the Republican Majority Leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, in which he said this about the state voter ID law passed by the GOP last year: “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania — done.” Robinson represents this comment as giving away the game in which suppression of the black vote will steal Pennsylvania for the GOP as many inner city blacks don’t have driver’s licenses or a photo ID to present at the polls.

Robinson doesn’t mention that any voter can get a free photo ID from the state if they ask for one. But his recitation of statistics about those who don’t already have proof of identity leaves out a far more significant number that influenced the Pennsylvania legislature to pass the bill: 100 percent. That’s the percentage of registered voters who voted at a number of Philadelphia voter precincts in the last several elections. Indeed, as Republicans in the state capital pointed out during the debate about the voter ID law, in many parts of Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold, voter turnout in contested elections routinely exceeds 100 percent of registered voters. But because the Democrats control the local elections board that supervises voting in the city, there is no accountability for this obvious fraud. If it is enforced, the voter ID law may make this rather flagrant method of cheating a bit more difficult this year.

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The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson gets on his favorite hobbyhorse today when he claims again in his column that voter ID laws are nothing more than a manifestation of racism. But in doing so, he demonstrates either his ignorance or his partisanship. Robinson and other liberals have long alleged that Republican support for laws intended to curb voter fraud are simply a way of suppressing the black vote for Democrats. To back this up, he seized on a statement made by Mike Turzai, the Republican Majority Leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, in which he said this about the state voter ID law passed by the GOP last year: “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania — done.” Robinson represents this comment as giving away the game in which suppression of the black vote will steal Pennsylvania for the GOP as many inner city blacks don’t have driver’s licenses or a photo ID to present at the polls.

Robinson doesn’t mention that any voter can get a free photo ID from the state if they ask for one. But his recitation of statistics about those who don’t already have proof of identity leaves out a far more significant number that influenced the Pennsylvania legislature to pass the bill: 100 percent. That’s the percentage of registered voters who voted at a number of Philadelphia voter precincts in the last several elections. Indeed, as Republicans in the state capital pointed out during the debate about the voter ID law, in many parts of Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold, voter turnout in contested elections routinely exceeds 100 percent of registered voters. But because the Democrats control the local elections board that supervises voting in the city, there is no accountability for this obvious fraud. If it is enforced, the voter ID law may make this rather flagrant method of cheating a bit more difficult this year.

That’s the problem with the complaints made by Robinson and Attorney General Eric Holder and the rest of the liberal establishment about voter ID laws. They keep telling us there is no such thing as election fraud in the United States, a point Robinson makes again today in his column. But in Pennsylvania, to seize on the example Robinson thinks is so damning, the Democrats and the unions have always been able to manufacture as many votes as they need to swing a state that otherwise leans to the Republicans. That’s what Turzai was alluding to when he said the voter ID law he helped pass would help Mitt Romney.

Romney may or may not win the Keystone State this November. Polls still show him trailing. But if Pennsylvania Democrats are no longer able to turn out voters in parts of the city where the votes cast exceed the number of registered voters, then Republicans may have a fighting chance to take the state.

Robinson works in Washington, so the dirty little secret about the way Democrats have often gained an edge in Pennsylvania politics may be news to him. But as corrupt as Philadelphia may be — and it is a city whose political culture has long been more akin to the typical urban machine cliché of the early and mid-20th century than just about any other large metropolitan area in the country — it is hardly the only place in America where politicians cheat. As I’ve noted twice in the past week, New York Congressman Charles Rangel may have won a primary against a Hispanic challenger by cooking the numbers via various methods including having the election board collude with his campaign.

If there is a possibility that legitimate registered voters won’t be allowed to vote because they don’t have driver’s licenses or another photo ID then the state has a responsibility to make sure they can get those easily. Pennsylvania has done that, but Robinson ignores it in order to make his partisan point about racism. On the other hand, it’s time for Robinson and other liberals to stop pretending that voter fraud is a myth.

Unless Robinson is prepared to tell us how it is that Philadelphia Democrats are able to produce more than 100 percent of registered voters in precincts in which the turnout is generally miniscule anytime other than an election in which the Democrats need a huge margin without resorting to fraud, then it’s time for him to pipe down. We have other things to worry about in America besides corruption. But it is an all too real problem in contemporary politics, and voter ID is one way to keep political cheaters from gaming elections.

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