The bills to require photo IDs at the voting booth that Republicans have been pushing in a couple of dozen states over the past few years always carry this justification: “Election fraud is a real and persistent threat to our electoral system.” This quotation comes from the chair of the Republican National Committee, but the sentiment can be heard in any state where the GOP is trying to tighten the rules at the polls. We need to check voters’ identification, the story goes, to protect the integrity of the electoral process.
Democrats have had a ready reply to this claim:
The suppressive effects of these bills are well-documented: 11 percent of Americans—approximately 23 million citizens of voting age—lack proper photo ID and, as a result, could be turned away from the polls on Election Day. Those without photo ID are disproportionately low-income, disabled, minority, young, and older voters. Numerous non-partisan organizations have debunked claims of widespread voter fraud, the purported basis for these laws.
Americans lacking photo IDs are strongly Democratic-leaning, making the suppressive effects of the bills handy, to say the least, for Republican candidates. But until last night, no Republican had taken to the national airwaves and admitted—no, bragged—that the impact on Democratic voters was the real motivation behind the voter ID push.
The honest-to-a-fault Republican we’re talking about is a GOP official from North Carolina. Last night, on the Daily Show, the hoary Don Yelton told Aasif Mandvi that the new voter ID law in his state was a great idea because it would “kick the Democrats in the butt.”
Cue the tape:
Today, in the wake of the interview, Yelton was asked to resign from the Buncombe County Republican Party, but he stood by his remarks, which were embarrassing for an impressively long list of reasons.