In print, on radio, and on television, center-left media outlets have devoted countless hours to proselytizing against voter identification laws. Many on the left have alleged that these laws are just more racially biased tools of disenfranchisement akin to the poll taxes and literacy tests of the Jim Crow-era. This is not even an implicit charge; Rev. Al Sharpton, who holds the conflicting roles of political activist and cable news host, regularly fires up his supporters by linking voter identification to historical efforts to suppress the black vote.
“I’m come to tell you, just like our mothers and fathers beat Jim Crow, we will beat James Crow Jr., Esquire,” Sharpton said at a rally last year on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington after denouncing voter identification laws. This is a line he repeats often.
It must sting tremendously that all these hours of argumentation on liberal media outlets were recently undone by The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley in less than 3 minutes.
Riley joined WSJ Live host Mary Kissel on Tuesday to discuss the latest defeat in the liberal war against voter identification which occurred in Wisconsin, a state in which Democrats have experienced four years of stinging, consecutive defeats.
Last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued two rulings with equal power to crush Democratic spirts. On Thursday, the Court found that a controversial ruling which stripped public sector unions of collective bargaining rights – a reform which prompted an unsuccessful attempt to recall Gov. Scott Walker in 2012 – did not violate the state’s constitution.
In another ruling, the Court determined that a 2011 law which required voters to show identification in order to cast in-person ballots was also constitutional. That ruling overturned a lower court, which had struck down the state’s voter ID law on constitutional grounds.
Riley made a succinct and compelling case as to why this Court’s ruling was no outlier, and that the campaign to foment outrage over these laws, spearheaded by the White House, is a purely political exercise.
Riley observed that there is virtually no evidence that voter ID laws suppressed the minority vote, and that these laws enjoy broad support across ethnic and partisan lines. In fact, a May Fox News poll indicated that a full 70 percent of Americans back laws which mandate voters produce identification at the polls.
The survey found majorities of every demographic support the law. Ninety-one percent of Republicans offer support, and 66 percent of independents feel the same.
Fifty-five percent of Democrats support the laws, while 43 percent oppose them.
Opposition to the laws is highest among black respondents, but even there a bare majority, 51 percent, support them. Forty-six percent of African Americans oppose the laws.
Kissel and Riley noted that, even though the Supreme Court has already ruled that requiring voters produce a picture ID at the polling place is perfectly constitutional, taxpayer dollars continue to be wasted by the Justice Department in challenges to voter ID laws at the local level.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of racial progress in this country when it comes to voting and voting patterns,” Riley noted. “And you have these interest groups trying to sell a completely different narrative that has no basis in reality.”
That is an extraordinarily polite way of saying that liberal groups, backed by the administration of the President of the United States, are cynically misleading their constituents on the issue of voter ID with the aim of inflaming racial animus in order to achieve short-term political gain.
It is hard to think of a more detestable and irresponsible course of action than that, but these are desperate times…