Governor Bob McDonnell’s signing of the Virginia voter ID bill yields a valuable lesson for Republicans working on voter integrity measures in the future: compromise cannot purchase peace from voter fraud deniers.
McDonnell signed an extraordinarily timid voter ID bill last week and then ordered the state board of elections to mail voter cards to every voter. The cards, which do NOT contain photo identification, can be used in the polls instead of a photo ID. In other words, anyone who obtains one of the cards can still vote in the name of a dead voter. Consider the actions of Lafayette Keaton in Oregon for an example of how this could work. Keaton is not the only person to have voted in the name of the dead. But mailing of the cards eliminates the argument that some voters will not have ID to use on election day, except it really doesn’t.
See, rational people presume mailing new cards to every voter solves the problem.
But voter fraud deniers aren’t rational people. They fear that irresponsible voters will lose their cards, that the disorganized and marginal will misplace their cards and be disenfranchised on election day. The voter fraud deniers use the lowest-common-denominator voter to argue that any given election integrity measure disenfranchises voters.
Most Republicans, rarely exposed to the deniers and activist groups like Project Vote, never encounter these extremist arguments. In other words, they underestimate the enemy.
Like day follows night, McDonnell is now being criticized for signing the voter ID bill.
Critics of the legislation expressed disappointment with McDonnell’s decision and took issue with the potential costs associated.
“This bill will cost significant resources in training and administration for election officials,” said Sen. A. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico. “In this economy, as we have too few dollars for education, public safety and transportation, we should not be wasting valued monies to suppress voting. This is now a costly boondoggle and an affront to Virginians and the Constitution.”
Anna Scholl, executive director of ProgressVA, said Virginians’ constitutional rights “have been caught between Bob McDonnell’s allegiance to his right-wing allies and his vice presidential aspirations.”
Never mind that Donald McEachin led the charge to force Virginia into expensive special sessions just to redistribute committee chairmanships and is one of the biggest spenders in Richmond. He just doesn’t like spending money on election integrity. Wonder why?
Scholl goes full-kook, calling the law a “voter suppression” measure.
Make no mistake, the voter fraud deniers and election integrity opponents aren’t interested in compromise. They seek only victory. Victory means stopping every single proposal that involves ensuring lawful elections. No amount of compromise will ever satisfy them. They will still resort to attacks against proponents of election integrity who just finished compromising with them.
Of course the formerly important NAACP is one of the groups fighting hard against election integrity. I detail their descent into racialist irrelevance in my book Injustice.
I heard that the governor feared an NAACP rally against him on the steps of the statehouse. These days, given how far the NAACP has fallen, Republicans couldn’t ask for better press. Nearly eighty percent of Americans agree with voter ID and election integrity. It’s time the GOP start enthusiastically riding that tailwind.
The next question is whether Virginia will now repeat the mistakes of Texas and South Carolina and offer up a sacrifice to Eric Holder’s DOJ instead of going straight to federal court for approval under the Voting Rights Act. Will Virginia Republicans underestimate their enemies and assume that no rational person would be against the Virginia law? Will Virginia Republicans underestimate the potential for mischief and lawlessless of the United States Department of Justice? Stay tuned.