Voter suppression efforts in the form of Voter ID bills have had a fraught history in Missouri. To date, Democrats have succeeded in warding off this GOP ploy to make it harder for traditionally Democratic constituencies to vote.
Voter ID has widespread popular support in Missouri, however – it is one of those ideas that sound good until you realize what it entails and, consequently, appeals to the more casual voter. Jonathan Chait, however, points out a hole in the GOP Voter ID rhetoric that was opened up by Mitt Romney’s most recent effort to denigrate President Obama – something that we should perhaps file away for later use when the Missouri Voter ID zombie climbs back out of its most recent grave.
Liberal bloggers have almost uniformly been scandalized by Mitt’s claims that the Obama administration has filed a lawsuit intended to curtail military voting privileges. The implication is, of course, that the Obama administration is trying to suppress military voting that might, traditionally at least, be expected to tend toward Republicans. Today Politifact took up the Romney camp’s assertion and declared it unequivocally false:
Indeed, Obama’s lawsuit clearly states that it seeks to permit all Ohioans – not just members of the U.S. military – to vote during the three days before the election, as was the case in 2008. The suit in no way suggests restricting early voting by members of the military.
It is simply dishonest for Romney and his backers to claim that Obama’s effort to extend early voting privileges to everyone in Ohio constitutes an attack on military voters’ ability to cast ballots on the weekend before elections.
So what does Jonathan Chait have to say that elevates this routine bit of dishonesty? He points out a key element of Romney’s pretend outrage:
Obviously this is your basic political smear, but there’s also a little more going on here. Consider Romney’s justification for longer in-person voting windows for members of the military:
The brave men and women of our military make tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms, and we should do everything we can to protect their fundamental right to vote.
If the ability to get to the polls is the “fundamental right to vote,” then why shouldn’t all eligible citizens enjoy that right?
If Romney is conceding that voting is a fundamental right rather than a privilege – not all Republicans concede this anymore – and, more importantly, that practical impediments can interfere with that right, then what justification do they have for their wide-ranging campaign to deny the same convenience to other Americans?