Jim DeMint, the former South Carolina senator and Tea Party firebrand who is now the president of the Heritage Foundation, became the latest in a string of conservatives to admit that restrictive voting laws such as voter ID requirements are an attempt to help Republicans win elections, telling a St. Louis radio host yesterday that voter ID laws help elect "more conservative candidates."
The number of Republicans who are accidentally telling the truth about voter-ID laws continues to grow. Right Wing Watch reported yesterday:
At first, I thought DeMint might have been making a more general statement about the unintended effects of the policy, but a closer read points to intent.
The Republican senator-turned-activist initially complained during the radio interview about Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) restoring the voting rights of former felons, before insisting that Democrats are trying to have "illegals" vote for them.
But DeMint then turned to voter-ID laws. "[I]t's something we're working on all over the country because in the states where they do have voter ID laws you've seen, actually, elections begin to change towards more conservative candidates," he said.
In case anyone, including DeMint, needs a refresher, the line Republicans and proponents of voter-suppression tactics are supposed to take is that voter-ID policies have nothing to do with partisanship or affecting the outcome of elections, and everything to do with the integrity of the voting process. "We're not trying to disenfranchise Democrats," GOP officials say, "that's just the accidental byproduct of our policies."
The argument is obviously untrue, but at least in public, Republicans generally try to pretend that the talking points have merit.
Except that's not at all what DeMint said. Rather, the Heritage Foundation chief argued that the right is working on voter-ID policies across the country "because" these laws help elect conservatives.
It's one of those classic cases of someone making a mistake by accidentally telling the truth.
And if DeMint's misstep sounds familiar, there's a good reason. Earlier this month, Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), a far-right freshman congressman, admitted in a television interview that voter-ID laws will "make a little bit of a difference" in boosting Republicans in the 2016 elections.
What's more, back in June 2012, a Republican leader in the Pennsylvania legislature boasted that a voter-ID law was "gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania." (President Obama won Pennsylvania twice.)
The next time someone makes the case these voter-suppression tactics have nothing to do with a partisan agenda, keep these examples in mind.