I recently visited Russia, where a mild-mannered historian from the city of Astrakhan, Oleg Shein, is on a hunger strike protesting a stolen mayoral election he believes he won. But as Russia starves for free and fair elections, Republicans across the United States are starving our democracy — and too few have noticed. And their furious assault on voting rights is no less destructive to democracy than the vote-rigging we deplore in Russia.
The GOP outrages to which Ms. vanden Heuvel, an editor and part owner of The Nation magazine, refers include such nefarious things as state laws requiring people to present an ID before voting. In other words, making sure voters are who they say they are is, in Ms. vanden Heuvel’s mind, an affront to democratic process.
Never mind that it is the absence of IDs that makes it easier to steal an election. Ms. vanden Heuvel is also exercised that ex-felons have been “disenfranchised” (I’d say they disenfranchised themselves by committing a felony but, hey, as long as they aren’t allowed to vote, I am willing to avoid quibbling over semantics), elimination of early voting, and restrictions on civic organizations registering voters.
Boy Scout troops are no longer permitted to register voters in Florida, which strikes Ms. Vanden Heuvel as an injustice. Others (such as myself) are mystified as to why on earth the lads were allowed to take on the task of registering voters in the first place. It would seem that the duty might more appropriately be assigned to a registrar of voters.
With regard to the nefarious ID, Vanden Heuvel emotes:
The consequences are clear in Texas, for example, where you can now register to vote with a handgun license but not a college ID.
Katrina, Hon, this is likely because people buying guns are more thoroughly vetted than those signing up to use the Stu Center for bridge games.
Another sob story: elderly nuns turned away at the voting booth for not having IDs. As a pro-nun Catholic, I am thinking somebody should rap the good sisters' knuckles for showing up without identification.
Vanden Heuvel says that the voting laws being enacted are silly because there is no evidence of voter fraud (“an individual is more likely to be struck by lightning than…”). But she is simply wrong. John Fund, film maker James O’Keefe, and former Department of Justice lawyer J. Christian Adams, to name but a few, have documented serious and widespread voter fraud. Voter fraud is a big problem that is a threat to democracy.
Democracy is a contest of ideas. Political parties should win because they persuade citizens to vote, not because they prohibit them from doing so.
But there's nothing wrong with asking voters to present an ID proving they are who they say they are. And what's wrong with asking them to care enough about their votes to make sure they register themselves? Oh, yes, and that their address isn't the cemetery. As James O’Keefe showed recently dead people are all too eager to vote. Only the ID requirement prevents the overeager dead from achieving this goal. In a tight election, these votes matter.