It's not news that the people with political power do their best to maintain it. Making sure people vote is democracy at work. Erecting barriers to keep others from voting is called voter suppression, and that's exactly what the Republican right is up to in 2011.
To date, 23 states—including Idaho—have passed or are considering new requirements that voters produce picture identification when they come to the polls.
Without such proof, a voter in Idaho must sign a document swearing to his or her identity. The penalty for swearing falsely is perjury, a felony.
Much has been made of the dangers of hordes of illegals and minorities somehow scamming the election system, and groups like ACORN turning in voter registration forms with names like Mickey Mouse.
The facts are that fictitious registrations came to the attention of election authorities because ACORN workers pointed them out, and that extensive investigations by Republican-appointed U.S. attorneys pushed by the Bush Justice Department did not find any voter fraud.
Since the U.S. attorneys were no help, those who would benefit from voter suppression on a national scale needed a new idea, and they found one: Demand documents from people who may not have them and disenfranchise them while appearing to protect the voting process.
Demand a passport from people who seldom travel. Demand a current driver's license from people who don't drive. Demand fees for picture IDs from those who have little time or money, then make them do it all again every time they move.
Ironically, in a U.S. Supreme Court case that approved a photo ID voting requirement in Indiana, both parties agreed that there had been no examples of voter fraud before the ID law was passed. Since then, however, Indiana has caught a cheater. The criminal was not an ACORN operative nor an undocumented alien nor someone voting the cemetery rolls. The fraudulent votes were cast in the 2010 election by no less than Indiana's secretary of state, the man whose job it is to guarantee fair and free elections.
The new ID laws have stopped at least one scofflaw, proving that those supporting these laws are onto something. Stopped from voting because she did not have a driver's license was a 103-year-old woman who has lived in the same house for more than six decades.
Thank heavens, the Republic is safe.