If the race for Sec. of State in Ohio is any indication, we may have still more evidence now to suggest that the decade-long Republican effort to enact disenfranchising poling place Photo ID restrictions, under the guise of fighting "voter fraud", may be turning a corner toward its final end as a viable GOP voter suppression strategy.
In May we wrote an article titled "Peak GOP 'Voter Fraud' Fraud?", offering several disparate clues to suggest that the well-funded, well-organized, initally under-the-radar national effort by Republicans to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning voters by requiring state-issued Photo ID they knew that many of them did not have, was headed towards a slow, but inevitable death.
That article followed on the heels of a seemingly devastating blow to Wisconsin's Photo ID restriction law by a federal judge who struck it down, finding in his landmark ruling that the statute was in violation of both the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act, and that it was "absolutely clear" that the GOP-enacted law in the Badger State would "prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes."
Our legal analyst Ernie Canning analyzed the WI ruling along side the other federal challenges against similar laws that are still pending in states like Texas, North Carolina and Arkansas, to suggest the WI decision "does not bode well for Republicans who have been attempting to advance such electoral schemes in recent years, as based on misleading 'facts', wild claims and dishonest interpretations of case law and court precedent." His legal analysis attempts to explain why the WI case "would likely mark the beginning of the end for Republican-enacted, polling place Photo ID restrictions."
We'll see if we're right in the months ahead, but the race for Secretary of State currently under way in Iowa to replace the incumbent Republican SoS --- one who had been embarrassed to find next to no "voter fraud" after running in 2010 on the notion of stamping it out --- suggests that even Republicans are moving on to other ideas...
According to AP's David Pitt, "the loud cry for voter identification and voter fraud investigations is fading to a whimper" in the Hawkeye State, as both the Democratic and Republican candidates running to replace outgoing SoS Matt Schultz (he decided not to run for a second term) are rejecting the tired and discredited calls for polling place Photo ID restrictions.
Once in office Schultz unsuccessfully lobbied lawmakers for a voter ID law, spent about $250,000 in a two-year investigation of election fraud and tried to pass a voter purge rule for those lacking citizenship proof, which led to an ongoing lawsuit.
He lost the court case filed by civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa when a judge ruled in March that Schultz didn't have the authority to create a rule that would cancel a voter's registration based on citizenship questions.
Yes, Schultz' quest to prove the massive epidemic of "voter fraud", once he was in a position to prove it, fell embarrassingly flat, and at great cost to his Iowa constituents.
As we noted in "Peak GOP 'Voter Fraud' Fraud", Schultz' costly investigation found that "Out of more than 1.5 million votes cast in the 2012 general election alone, the allegedly illegal votes cast in the state amount to an infinitesimal 0.008427933%. Still, even that number overstates the incidences of voter fraud Schultz was able to find in Iowa, which happens to include zero cases of in-person voter impersonation that Photo ID laws are supposedly meant to deter. Zero."
The story is similar for Kansas' far-Rightwing Sec. of State Kris Kobach. Once in office, after running on little more than a fight to "Stop Voter Fraud" he too was unable to actually find any, so he's now turned to a different strategy: attempting to keep certain voters from being able to register at all.
The Iowa candidates hoping to replace Schultz have both full rejected his strategy. The Democrat running to replace him, Brad Anderson, is quoted by Pitt as saying: "I would end immediately these wasteful, expensive criminal investigations that have yielded few if any results."
More to the point, even the Republican vying for the office, Paul Pate (who formerly served as Iowa SoS from 1995 to 1999), thinks "the voter ID issue can be resolved by using a computerized system that shows a voter's records, including a picture and other details," according to Pitt.
"We have a lot of smart people in this state and we're very capable of working out a method in which we can verify IDs and do it in such a fashion where we are not alienating or disenfranchising people," Pate told AP. "That's my goal."
Well, that's certainly a change of pace for a Republican candidate for Sec. of State these days --- and an encouraging one.
Of course, had there ever been any confusion about the real intentions of Schultz and Iowa Republicans when attempting to enact polling place Photo ID restrictions, the scam was laid bare during the 2012 GOP Iowa Caucuses.
During those statewide, first-in-the-nation Presidential Caucuses, when Republicans were largely allowed to institute any rules at all for running their own selection process for the GOP Presidential nominee --- without facing potential violations of the U.S. Constitution or federal law --- they chose to let anyone who showed up to both register as a Republican and cast a vote in the caucus --- no Photo ID was necessary.
The open voting rule helped further put the lie to state Republicans' professed concerns that "voter fraud" was causing dilution of the votes cast by legal voters. It was clear that it was only Democratic-leaning voters, such as minorities, the poor, the elderly and students, who needed to be stopped from voting at all in the general election that was a concern to the GOP.
It's probably far too early still to declare the national Republican scam "dead". We'll see what comes of the federal court cases by the DoJ and others challenging similar Photo ID restrictions laws currently in TX, NC and elsewhere. But signs continue to emerge, both legal and electoral, to suggest the strategy --- once seen as a way to help Republicans retain an electoral advantage they are rapidly losing due to a combination of unstoppable demographics and wildly unpopular policy positions --- may be nearing its final, ignominious end.
Seeing any more such signs out there? Let us know in comments blow or via email.
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)