11 September 2012
Eureka! Illegal voting discovered in Maryland
Wendy Rosen isn't exactly guilty of fraudulent voting; to my knowledge she never pretended to be someone else, and is a citizen of the United States. But she has confessed to illegally voting in two different states during the same election cycle. This is news not just because it appears to prove the Republican premise that people do try to vote illegally, but also because Rosen was the Democratic party's candidate for a congressional seat in Maryland, one of her home states. That's got to be just a bit embarrassing for the party most opposed to laws designed to suppress "illegal" voting and most inclined to deny that anyone votes illegally. But it doesn't refute all Democratic arguments against Republican anti-fraud legislation. As has been pointed out quite quickly, while repeat voting was once commonplace on the metropolitan level, the sort of repeat voting Rosen practiced is highly uncommon and not the sort of illegal voting Republican measures are designed to stop. Putting all arguments pro and con aside, the object of most such measures is to prevent people who lack photo I.D. from voting. The rationalization may be that photo I.D. verifies that the voter isn't fraudulent, but the immediate effect is to render those who for whatever reason, plausible or not, lack photo I.D., illegal voters. Republican proposals impose new burdens on people previously presumed legal voters, and the common GOP arguments that I.D. is easy to acquire and already required for many social services don't change that fact. To the extent that the proposed or enacted laws burden more legal voters than deter illegal voters, the effect, intended or not, admitted or not, is voter suppression. While no one should take Democratic protestations of universal innocence on faith, Democrats have every right and some good reason to continue opposing I.D. laws. But if the Rosen debacle tips the balance of public opinion further against them, the Democrats will once again have themselves to blame for their troubles. It's sad when the main opposition to a wicked and stupid party is just plain stupid.