-By Brad Friedman
December 28, 2011- For all of their years of claims that massive voter fraud is going on at the polling place, such that Photo ID restrictions are required to ensure the integrity of the vote, you'd think that when Republicans have a chance to run their own elections, they'd be sure to want it to be as "fraud" free as possible.
Nonetheless, despite onerous polling place Photo ID requirements now passed into law in about a dozen states where the GOP controls both the legislative and executive branches, voters will be able to cast their ballot in next Tuesday's "First-in-the-Nation" Republican Iowa Caucuses without bothering to show a Photo ID — even though the Republican Party itself sets their own rules for voting there.
Unlike most primary elections where an official state election board or agency sets the rules and runs the registration and balloting processes, the Iowa Republican Party runs its own state caucuses, determines the rules, tabulates all the votes and announces the results to the public and media themselves. They have complete control over the entire process, and yet they don't bother to ask their own voters to show a state-issued Photo ID before casting their ballot.
I wonder why that would be?
Actually, I don't. I know exactly why that's the case. Polling place photo ID laws, passed in states where Republicans took control in the wave election of 2010, are instituted for one purpose and one purpose only: to suppress the votes of voters such as the elderly, minorities and students, all of whom have a dastardly tendency to vote for Democratic candidates rather than Republicans. Since only Republicans are on the IA Republican Caucus ballot, unlike general elections, the GOP has no interest in disenfranchising their own voters.
While the GOP likes to claim they're attempting to institute these laws to curb "voter fraud", they're unable to show evidence of virtually any polling place impersonation that would supposedly be prevented by such laws. For example, in rejecting the South Carolina GOP's new Photo ID restriction last Friday, finding that that the state's own statistics showed the law would be racially discriminatory, the U.S. Dept. of Justice noted [PDF] that the state failed to point to "any evidence or instance of either in-person voter impersonation or any other type of fraud that is not already addressed by the state's existing voter identification requirement and that arguably could be deterred by requiring voters to present only photo identification at the polls."
That, even as independent study after study have documented how hundreds of thousands of perfectly legal voters are likely to be disenfranchised by such laws.
Of course, if "voter fraud" was truly a concern of the Republican Party, surely they would require that Iowa caucus goers present a Photo ID before casting their vote. But, because such laws have never been about "voter fraud", once again this year, the Party will not bother to require Iowa Republicans to present any such ID before voting in the all-important caucuses next week.