EDITORIAL: Voter ID laws keep minorities from voting?

The post-mortem of the GOP debacle in Alabama reveals that an exceptionally strong turnout among African-Americans helped Democrats narrowly win last week’s special Senate election. NPR reports that more black voters backed Doug Jones over Roy Moore than went to the polls to support Barack Obama in 2012.

“And a full 96 percent of black voters in Alabama … supported Jones, including 98 percent of African-American women,” according to NPR.

This is particularly interesting given that Alabama requires that voters show photo identification before they may cast a ballot. Democrats have long claimed that Republican efforts to impose such laws in the name of combating fraud are, in fact, intentionally nefarious schemes intended to disenfranchise minority voters.

If so, the plot has failed miserably.

The Wall Street Journal’s Jason L. Riley noted this week that progressives were poised and ready to blame an anticipated loss in the Jones-Moore contest on Alabama’s voter ID requirement. Paul Krugman of The New York Times was busily tweeting on election day that a win by Mr. Moore would be the result of “voter suppression,” Mr. Riley writes.

“The turnout among blacks … was impressive,” Mr. Riley observes, “and ought to inform the continuing debate about whether voter identification requirements are tantamount to ‘voter suppression.’”

What’s amazing about this debate is that progressives, with the help of their media stenographers, have managed to get away with casting voter ID supporters as racist hatemongers far outside the mainstream. That’s fake news. As Mr. Riley points out, a Gallup survey last year found widespread support for voter ID laws even among Democrats and non-whites. A 2012 Washington Post survey revealed that 65 percent of blacks and 64 percent of Hispanics supported such requirements.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already upheld voter ID statutes as reasonable efforts to ensure electoral integrity. In addition, contrary to the overwrought predictions, minority turnout has increased in many places, including Indiana and Georgia, that have imposed such requirements. But none of this has discouraged Democrats from challenging in the courts virtually every new attempt to demand that those seeking to cast ballots prove their identity.

“Voter ID laws don’t keep blacks from casting ballots any more than they keep blacks from cashing checks,” Mr. Riley writes, later adding, “Don’t expect Democratic leaders to stop peddling these voter ID myths. The issue gives them a way to smear Republicans as racist, and liberals have an abiding belief that racial polarization is good politics.”

While encouraging participation in our representative democracy is a good thing, so too is attempting to discourage fraud. The Alabama experience highlights that those goals are not mutually exclusive.

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