Here is your required reading for this Monday afternoon: an op-ed column by Artur Davis, a former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Alabama, admitting that he now wishes he had supported voter identification laws when he was in office.
Critics of such laws argue that requiring voters to show ID is akin to “suppression” of voting. Davis, writing in the Montgomery Adviser, argues that the objections are overstated. He looks at a voter ID law passed in Alabama in 2011 to explain that “demanding integrity in voting is neither racist, nor raw party politics.”
He also suggests that vote fraud is more widespread and consequential than many are willing to admit:
The truth is that the most aggressive contemporary voter suppression in the African American community, at least in Alabama, is the wholesale manufacture of ballots, at the polls and absentee, in parts of the Black Belt.
Voting the names of the dead, and the nonexistent, and the too-mentally-impaired to function, cancels out the votes of citizens who are exercising their rights — that’s suppression by any light. If you doubt it exists, I don’t; I’ve heard the peddlers of these ballots brag about it, I’ve been asked to provide the funds for it, and I am confident it has changed at least a few close local election results.
Arkansas Project contributor Dan Greenberg has done a lot of work on voter ID laws, including developing this handy paper for the Advance Arkansas Institute. Critical point: Dan finds evidence suggesting that, in some cases, voter participation has actually increased following implementation of voter ID laws.
In this year’s legislative session, Arkansas Rep. Bryan King heroically shepherded a voter ID law (HB 1797) through the state House of Representatives, only to have it crash upon the rocky shoals of some Senate committee, the name of which I cannot be bothered to look up.