Voter ID: The thing that won’t go away

For Democrats, it’s like an ant at a picnic, fly in the ointment or that word one can’t write in a newspaper in the punch bowl. Voter ID for Democrats is like Michael Corleone in The Godfather: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

But for Republicans, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Republicans believe that even mere resistance to voter identification is proof that Democrats are up to something – particularly Democrats with a track record of playing fast and loose with some of the rules like Noxubee County Democratic Party chairman Ike Brown.

Voter ID follies
Brown and the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee were found guilty in federal court of voter discrimination against white voters and white candidates in Noxubee County elections.

That was the second act in the recent voter ID follies in Mississippi

First, U.S. District Judge Allen Pepper ruled Democratic and Republican primaries should be closed and that voters would re-register to vote and in doing so declare a party affiliation.

Pepper also ruled that the Legislature should enact a photo voter ID policy. Pepper’s decision was in response to a state Democratic Party lawsuit against the Election Commission seeking to close primaries and allow only registered Democrats to cast ballots. The state Democratic Executive Committee said it wanted to block Republicans from crossover voting in Democratic primaries.

Then this spring, the U.S. Supreme Court seemingly paved the way for a legislative slam dunk on the issue by upholding Indiana’s tough voter ID law.

The latest act in the voter ID follies came Wednesday when the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the Pepper ruling that would have forced Mississippians to register by political party and to show photo identification at the polls to be able to vote.

Now, all’s right with the political world again.

The Democrats are safe from all that scary but non-existent intimidation they claim voter ID would unleash on the voters.

The Republicans have a firm hold on that reliable wedge issue that inflames crossover voters who don’t understand why people would resist identifying themselves at the polling place – and for whom Ike Brown is still some kind of threat.

It would seem at some point that cooler heads would prevail, but then both sides of this fight apparently love to argue about it. That’s why we waste so much time as a state in keeping voter ID alive.

Clarion Ledger
6/1/8