National: What’s the Goal of Voter-ID Laws? | The Atlantic

As states around the country enact or consider voter-ID laws, the battle formations are well-rehearsed. Conservatives who back the laws say that there’s a danger of fraudulent votes, which pollute the democratic process at best and swing elections at worst. Liberals who oppose them counter that there’s next to no evidence of actual voting fraud; that voter-ID laws wouldn’t stop that fraud anyway; and that the laws are actually intended to depress voter-turnout among the populations that are least likely to hold state-issued photo ID—students, the poor, minorities, and the elderly who are most likely to vote Democratic—and improve conservative prospects in elections, despite demographic changes that favor liberal candidates. The pro-voter-ID side has two big problems. First, they’ve been unable to produce proof of the widespread voter fraud they believe exists. Second, people who agree with them—and in some cases the proponents themselves—keep slipping up and saying the point is to help conservative candidates. Last week, Jim DeMint, the president of the Heritage Foundation and former senator from South Carolina, spoke on St. Louis-area talk radio. Legislators in Missouri are trying to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would mandate that voters show voter ID. (I explained why they’re using that path last week.) Host Jamie Allman asked DeMint about Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s move to re-enfranchise former felons.