This column by ACRU Policy Board Member and former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams was published October 19, 2014 on PJ Media.
Lots of folks think Democrats oppose voter ID laws because they want to cheat and such laws interfere with their plans. That’s an attractive explanation, but it ignores the far more complex architecture of voter ID opposition. Here’s the real reasons Democrats oppose voter ID. Understanding these three reasons will help you decode the whole narrative behind voter ID.
1. Opposition to Voter ID Is a Base-Mobilization Tool.
Simply, Democrats and civil rights groups spend millions of dollars opposing voter ID because they are trying to scare minority voters into thinking that Jim Crow is back. If Jim Crow is back, then they better go vote in November. This was made starkly clear to me when I learned that a 3rd grade teacher in a government-run school was telling her students that Republicans were trying to take away the right to vote for black people, so they better get their parents to vote against Republicans. (Yes, that’s another story for another day, and yes I know her name and the school where she still teaches.)
Fear mobilizes people to vote better than does logic. If you can scare minorities falsely into thinking that they may lose their right to vote if they don’t vote for Democrats, they will vote for Democrats.
2. Voter ID Opponents Have the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations.
Leftist opponents of voter ID truly think minorities are less able to function in American life. I learned this when a Department of Justice Voting Section lawyer opposed to voter ID told me he thought blacks were more likely to forget their photo identification than whites were. Their lives “were more disorganized,” he said. This is a lawyer currently still working in the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department. This is a perfect example of the “soft bigotry of low expectations.”
And it isn’t just one crank lawyer at DOJ. The plaintiffs challenging voter ID and election integrity laws actually hired an expert to testify in federal court in voter ID cases that blacks were less capable of functioning efficiently in a daily routine and photo ID laws have a disparate impact on them. The expert called this idea the “calculus of voting.” For example, they have to take the bus more. Taking the bus, naturally, makes it harder to get a photo ID.
The plaintiffs argue that voting “is largely a product of habit,” and blacks, well, their habits just don’t brook any interruptions to their habits, so they argue.
This is another perfect example of the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” Opponents of voter ID are genuinely afraid that forcing blacks to get photo ID will impose a burden on them they just can’t handle.
3. They Need Money.
Groups like the NAACP and ACLU are looking to justify their continued existence, decades after they won the fight. Opposition to voter ID helps them fundraise, and pay salaries.
So next time you wonder why Democrats oppose photo ID, don’t fall for the easy answer. Don’t think it’s because Democrats have organized cheating operations. The real answer is much more sophisticated, and much more sinister.