State GOP Down So Low, Even Voter ID Push Doesn’t Appeal to Them

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The California battle over voter ID began in earnest in 2009 when Republican state Senator George Runner unsuccessfully pursued getting the issue—which has been championed by Republican-controlled legislatures across the country—before the voters as a ballot initiative.

It apparently ended this past week when state GOP officials quickly backed away from comments that party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro recently made about pushing for an initiative in the next election cycle. Party communications director Jennifer Kerns  told the Sacramento Bee the GOP, which is in debt, would not be undertaking an expensive initiative.

The initiative’s quick demise may be related to the Republican Party’s descent into near obscurity in California politics.

Although California is reeling economically and dominated by scorned Democrats at every government level, the Republican Party has shrunk to near minority status. Registered Republicans barely edge out Independents (30%-21%) and continue to decline, finding it difficult to field candidates for political races across the state.  No Republican holds statewide office.  

The GOP opposition to abortion rights, tough talk on immigration, abhorrence of gay marriage, absolutism on taxes and general drift to the right have shrunk its membership to its base.

“They have become too doctrinaire on the social issues,” Republican consultant Allan Hoffenblum told the New York Times. “It’s become a cult.”

Republican enthusiasm for voter ID in California may have come too late. Since 2003, around 30 states have passed laws requiring voters to provide some form of photo or-non photo identification but nearly all of them were controlled by Republicans.

Supporters of voter ID say it is necessary to combat widespread fraud. Opponents of voter ID say the laws are targeted at traditional Democratic voters—young people, the elderly, minorities and poor—and is a barely-disguised form of vote suppression no less repugnant than a poll tax.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter ID law in 2008, the decision noted that there were no recorded instances of voter fraud. Numerous studies concur that that is the case nationwide. Pennsylvania, which is currently defending its voter ID law in court signed a stipulated agreement that there “have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states.”

What is known, is that in the Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia alone, more than 186,000 registered voters (18% of the city’s total registration) lack a license or state ID.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:  

State GOP Drops Voter ID Initiative (by Marisa Lagos and Wyatt Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle)

Republican Party in California Is Caught in Cycle of Decline (by Adam Nagourney, New York Times)

Battle Begins in California on Voter ID Proposal (by Justin Reimer, Republican National Lawyers Association)

In Voter ID Lawsuit, Pennsylvania Admits They’ve Never Prosecuted or Investigated Voter Fraud (by David Dayen, FireDogLake)

Increasing Numbers of Registered Voters Could Lose Right to Vote because of New ID Laws (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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