“My View” from the July 10, 2012 edition of “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer”
It could be one of the most disgraceful trends in American politics right now; at worst, born of racism, at best born of excess partisanship and ignorance. ‘It’ is the wave of voter ID laws being passed by Republican-led legislatures, targeted without ambiguity at mostly African-American voters in urban areas.
Proving true the old maxim that a political gaffe is accidentally telling the truth, Mike Turzai, the Republican leader of the Pennsylvania legislature, said of the new Pennsylvania law — which could disenfranchise over 750,000 voters, including 18 percent of the voters in Philadelphia:
“Voter ID, which is gonna allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania — done.”
The canard, the lie, the deceit which underlies the push for voter ID laws is that there is, in fact, voter fraud of any magnitude that merits this type of attention. The best, most recent study done by the Bush administration, found a total of 86 cases in the whole nation, and most didn’t even involve efforts to vote. Usually it was improper registration of some sort — nothing that would even be stopped or affected by the picture ID requirement of the Pennsylvania statute.
Eighty-six cases in the entire nation — not affecting a single election outcome, nothing organized. Individual acts of ignorance or efforts to get a better ID.
Turzai told the truth. These statutes are designed to do one thing: suppress voters who are hostile to the Republican Party, usually minorities. These statutes are on a par with the Jim Crow laws of the post-Civil War era. They are poll taxes with racism overlaid on top of them.
And worse: They might work.
In an election where the public is right now split almost down the middle, affecting the turn-out in the significant way these laws might could actually throw a state like Pennsylvania or Florida from one column to the other. The crime here is not any effort at organized voter fraud, it is the undisguised effort to suppress one of the most cherished rights we have — the right to vote.
When you play politics by the adage, win at all costs, one of those costs becomes the integrity of our system.
When Gov. Romney appears at the NAACP convention tomorrow, he needs to renounce the voter ID laws that have sprouted up. Anything less will demonstrate a willingness to play a form of politics that is beneath anyone seeking the presidency of the United States.
That’s “My View.”