Lyle Denniston looks at the Voter ID issue possibly affecting the legitimacy of the next president, if opponents of such measures can prove voter suppression existed during the election. The statements at issue: “This November, restrictive voter ID states will provide 127 electoral votes – nearly half of the 270 needed to win the presidency. Therefore, the ability of eligible citizens without photo ID to obtain one could have a major influence on the outcome of the 2012 election.” – Brennan Center for Justice, at New York University School of Law, in a new report, “The Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification,” July 17
“[Mitt Romey] as president…might find himself as frustrated as Obama. Democrats are planning to challenge his legitimacy, on grounds of Republican-imposed voter ID laws with disparate racial impact.” – Fred Hiatt, Washington Post editorial writer, in an op-ed column on July 30, “A blocking election: The motivation for voters has become stopping the other guy”
“What should Democrats do if Romney comes to power on the strength of racially suppressed votes?…Mass demonstrations would be in order. So would a congressional refusal to confirm any of Romney’s appointments. A presidency premised on a racist restriction of the franchise creates a political and constitutional crisis…” – Harold Meyerson, Washington Post columnist, in op-ed comments on July 25, “The illegitimate aims of voter suppression”
We checked the Constitution, and …
America’s founding document, and some of its amendments, spell out a process for choosing presidents, but it doesn’t have anything to say about the constitutional legitimacy of the candidates who wind up as the winners — that is, if they can avoid impeachment. The country’s tradition of a peaceful transfer of Executive Branch power, even after a bitter campaign, may have made it seem that the system has worked pretty well. But it is hardly surprising, given the extreme partisan polarization of today’s national politics, that a president’s election has the real potential for stirring up claims of constitutional illegitimacy. How often has President Barack Obama’s place of birth been brought up as if it were a genuine issue over his right to be in the White House, despite the fact that his election victory was decisive? How often has the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bush v. Gore been used to besmirch the Presidency of George W. Bush?