Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said recently that if Democrats want to pass a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore the voting rights of felons, they’ll have to agree to a strict new law that would require citizens to present voter IDs when voting. Why screw up perfectly good legislation like House Bill 70, which would allow non-violent felons to vote once they’ve served their sentences, with a bad bill that is anti-democratic (notice the small “d”) and potentially racist. We’ve yet to see exactly what Mr. Thayer, R-Georgetown, has in mind, but the bills pushed across the nation in recent years to make it harder to vote — all in the name of a bogeyman called vote fraud — are universally bad. Take for instance, Texas, where former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright was at first refused a voter identification card last weekend when his expired driver’s license and Texas Christian University faculty card were deemed insufficient to prove his identity. He had to later provide a birth certificate to prove he was entitled to vote — which he has been doing in Texas for longer than most of us have been alive.
“I earnestly hope these unduly stringent requirements on voters won’t dramatically reduce the number of people who vote,” the 90-year-old Texan told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last week.
But that’s exactly what the law is intended to do.
Republicans who are pushing for such egregious laws expect voters to get fed up with the process and just go home rather than do what Mr. Wright did —show up again early last week with the birth certificate he needed in order to be given a voter identification card.