The rising percentage of Latinos, blacks and young whites, especially young white women, is now a structural political disadvantage for Republicans in most statewide and national campaigns.
Gerrymandering has limited its impact in congressional races by creating more racially and politically homogenous – segregated – congressional districts.
But in statewide and national races, the Republicans have to face a harsh demographic and political reality. Simply put, their voters are dying while voters favorable to Democrats are coming into politics in demographic waves.
The GOP answer is a strategy of voter suppression by imposing voter identification laws and limiting early voting. This approach to winning elections has roots in disreputable historical practices such as poll taxes, literacy tests and land ownership.
In the closing days of this campaign the historic importance of the GOP strategy is evident as more state and federal courts rule that it is unconstitutional to deny Americans of any age, race or class the right to vote.
Last week, a federal court ruled against a South Carolina law requiring that voters show photo ID in the November elections. The Justice Department argued the new law, approved by the Republican governor, violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The court ruled there is too little time to implement the law this year without risking the voting rights of minorities. The judges added they might have blocked the law for all time if South Carolina had not pledged to give wide leeway to voters who cannot comply.
Similarly, federal judges in Pennsylvania, Texas, Mississippi and Wisconsin have stopped voter identification laws until after the election.
However, strict photo ID laws will be in effect this November in Georgia, Kansas, Indiana and Tennessee. Strict voter ID laws without photo-identification requirements are also in place in Arizona, Ohio and Virginia.
The legal fights over this political strategy all but guarantee an eventual appeal to the Supreme Court before the 2014 midterm elections.
While Republicans may be losing in court, they have been winning the argument for more voter identification in public polls.
The heart of the Republican argument is that everyone has to show an ID to buy cigarettes, drive a car or board an airplane. Why shouldn’t Americans show one to vote? A Rasmussen poll in April found 73 percent of Americans in favor of requiring a government-issued identification photograph for all voters.
But smoking, driving and flying are privileges. Voting is a Constitutional right. Absent any evidence of fraud, all Americans have a protected right to vote, be they rich or poor, black, Hispanic or white, people who live in a big city or in remote rural areas.
And there is no evidence of any fraud.
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