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Rick Horowitz

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Voter I.D. Laws: One Fly, One Sledgehammer

Posted: 05/24/11 09:15 PM ET

I've got a broken shoelace. It happens.

Now, here are some ways I can deal with this broken shoelace:

  • With a new shoelace;

  • With a big bowl of mushroom soup;

  • With a can of Lysol;

  • With a dawn-to-dusk curfew on anyone under the age of 25.

One of these answers is clearly better than the others -- unless you're a Republican state legislator. If you're a Republican state legislator, the correct answer is totally up for grabs. In fact, if you're a Republican state legislator, you're probably leaning pretty hard toward that curfew. Not that it has the slightest thing to do with shoelaces.

Anyway...

Ready to talk about all these new voter-I.D. laws springing up everywhere? (Actually, not quite "everywhere" -- only where the GOP is in charge of making the rules.) Let's talk about the "problem" of voter fraud; that's our broken shoelace. And the much bigger problem of voter suppression; that's our dawn-to-dusk curfew.

It would be nice, you see, if the solution matched the problem. Assuming, of course, the "problem" you're trying to "solve" is the problem you say you're trying to solve. And not some other kind of problem altogether.

The problem of being outvoted, for instance. The problem of too many of the "wrong" kinds of voters -- young voters, poor voters, mobile voters, minority voters -- exercising their right to vote, and mostly voting for the other guys. Those are political problems, not fraud problems.

And the GOP says, "So?"

But wait! There's more!

Do you notice how the make-it-hard-to-vote brigades have switched tactics lately? They don't focus any more on how much voter fraud there's been in this state or that state. That's because there hasn't been much voter fraud, in this state or that state or any other state; study after study has shown that.

(Of course, those are just facts.)

And what little bits of voter fraud there have been? They wouldn't be affected by the voter-I.D. laws the GOP is pushing.

So now -- new argument! -- Republicans have started talking about how people need to have "confidence" in the "voting process." How people shouldn't have to "worry" about even the "threat" of fraudulent voting.

Pretty clever, right? Because then you don't have to show that anybody -- let alone lots of anybodys -- has actually voted illegally. You only have to claim that some people, somewhere, are fretting about it.

And why would they be fretting about it when it hardly ever happens? Could it possibly be because the Republican Party and its media wing have been shouting about it for years?!

Just a theory.

Then there's the diversionary assault on "hardly ever happens."

"So you're saying" -- this is their other line -- "that you're OK with a little bit of voter fraud?"

No. I'm not "OK" with it. Are you "OK" with a little bit of jaywalking?

People can get killed jaywalking! So why aren't you passing laws that require barriers on every street in the state, to keep people from crossing in the middle of the block, or crossing against the light? Or better yet, why don't you tell people -- or at least certain people, certain types of people -- that they can't drive, and they can't walk? That they need to stay indoors?

You don't do that because the "solution" would be costly, and inconvenient, and much, much worse than the problem you're trying to solve.

Assuming, of course, you're trying to solve a problem -- and not create one.

Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at rickhoro@execpc.com.

 

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