It's a truth universally acknowledged that laws requiring voters to show some form of identification have only one purpose: to suppress minority turnout and help the Republican party. The official line, after all, is that there has never-ever-not-once-in-the-history-of-the-republic--been-even-one-instance-of-voter-fraud. Voter ID laws, therefore, are said to be a solution to a non-existent problem, and a racist one to boot.
Of course, that argument is specious in the extreme. In the absence of laws designed to protect the electoral process—like voter ID requirements—it would be extraordinarily difficult to prove voter fraud. And anyone who lives in a jurisdiction without voter ID provisions can see how easy it would be to commit fraud. I was taken aback the first time I voted in the District of Columbia. At my precinct, all I had to do was claim my name was Ethan Epstein, and I was off to the races. Literally anybody who knew I lived in Washington could have voted under my name.
Given the utmost importance of the issue (a healthy democracy depends on a clean electoral process) and the simplicity and ease of the solution (require voters produce to some form of ID, like they do when, say, buying cold medicine, and better yet, offer citizens some form of free voter ID) it's not surprising that many states have adopted voter ID requirements in recent years. One of the first, in fact, was heavily Democratic Rhode Island, giving the lie to the notion that voter ID laws are always and everywhere a Republican plot. It's also odd that Spain, the Netherlands, Mexico, and Canada have voter ID laws to help the GOP.
Interestingly, a large majority of minority voters see things the same way. According to poll data from Gallup, released this week, 77 percent of American Hispanics and Blacks support voter ID laws. The figure is essentially the same among whites; 81 percent back ID laws. All in all, large majorities in both parties support voter ID laws. 95 percent of Republicans support them; 63 percent of Democrats do. (And by the way, given that minorities are overwhelmingly Democratic, doesn't that imply that Democratic white voters are far less supportive of voter ID laws than Democratic minority voters?)
So, here is how things stand: A large majority of Democratic voters back voter ID laws. Yet Democratic party officials and media elites oppose them tooth and nail. Is there something the party honchos know that the voters don't?