Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is either willfully ignorant or dishonest.
Pate rolled out his proposed voter ID laws Thursday, a so-called move toward stifling nonexistent election fraud. It's a curious move given that, just two months ago on these very pages, he lauded the "security" of Iowa's elections. Pate defended the cognitive dissonance Thursday by arguing that the move would pre-empt any future election fraud, according to Iowa Public Radio.
And Pate's statement announcing the crackdown on voters really flew in the face of established fact.
"We are one of the top states in the nation for voter registration and voter participation. This legislation will not have any negative impact on either of those," he said. "Instead, it will help instill confidence in our voting system and let every Iowan know that their vote counts."
Yeah. That's demonstrably false.
Republican-run states throughout the country have employed fear of some nonexistent fraudulent voter to erect barriers to poll access. Court after court has called the various iterations little but racially targeted suppression, direct attacks on the Voting Rights Act. It's hard to believe that Pate isn't aware of this.
But the federal jurists are only as good as the facts before them. The research about the devastating effect on racial minorities is not only undeniable, according to peer-reviewed research. It's downright sinister.
Minority voters are incredibly less likely to vote in states with voter ID laws, says a 2016 landmark study by researcher at University California, San Diego. Blacks are especially hard hit, the first-of-its-kind study says. But Hispanics, Asians and mixed-race voters, too, are exponentially less likely to cast ballots.
The result — already known by the masterminds of these ridiculous laws — is a pronounced benefit for Republican candidates.
It's a strategy that opts to keep opposition voters from the polls instead of working for their votes. It's nothing more than Jim Crow's well-dressed grandson.
Pate looks to have known all this. That's why he chose a more watered-down approach, as opposed to the disgusting, blatant and unconstitutional measures passed in Texas and North Carolina only to die in the courtroom.
Any registered voter without an ID will be issued an ID card, Pate said. No worries, he proclaimed.
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Pate's dodging the real issue, and he knows it.
Public services are harder to access for those living in poor neighborhoods. Public transportation is somewhere between lackluster and nonexistent in most of Iowa. Access to motor vehicle offices and county clerks is a nationwide problem that, in part, explains the suppressive effect these voter ID laws have on targeted communities.
In Des Moines, like in Washington, D.C., freshly empowered Republicans are climbing over each other to plant their flag in some ideological hill. They're proposing defunding women's health clinics for alleged violations that don't exist. They're eyeing tax cuts while schools and highways rot on the vine. They're yearning to set up gonadal checkpoints outside public restrooms. They're hoping to hold on long enough to redistrict Democrats out of existence in some parts of the country, yet another attack on voters who don't back the GOP.
Then there's Pate. He's a man who, in one moment, lauds the above-board nature of Iowa's election when it best suits him. In the next moment, he's stoking paranoia and fear of some fraudulent voter that he himself admits doesn't exist. And he has the gall to claim that his pitch won't disenfranchise a soul.
All Pate's proven is his utter contempt for a significant portion of Iowa's voting public and his burning desire to keep them from the polls.