Last night on my radio show, former U.S. Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama, a centrist, black Democrat who was the first non-Illinois congressman to endorse Barack Obama for president, spent a half hour discussing his recent conversion in favor of requiring that voters show photo IDs. He first went public with his position in a Montgomery Advertiser column about 11 days ago, after contacting me to see if I wanted to write about it.
Considering that so many Democrats, including Bill Clinton, claim that photo ID requirements amount to vote-suppression, this apostasy from within their party ranks is a big deal. But it comes from an honest man -- the same man who I believe (unless I missed something) is still the only Demo congressman to admit that he and others were wrong about eight years ago to oppose reforms for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Indeed, Davis first got elected by defeating the Democratic machine led by longtime incumbent Earl Hilliard, who had beclowned himself with a series of outrageous remarks (if I remember rightly, those remarks were widely adjudged to be anti-Semitic). Anyway, Davis was absolutely terrific on my show last night, as befits a thoughtful man of integrity. If I ever get technologically savvy, I'll figure out how to post the audio of last night's show. Meanwhile, this passage from his column is worth noting:
The truth is that the most aggressive contemporary voter suppression in the African American community, at least in Alabama, is the wholesale manufacture of ballots, at the polls and absentee, in parts of the Black Belt. Voting the names of the dead, and the nonexistent, and the too-mentally-impaired to function, cancels out the votes of citizens who are exercising their rights -- that's suppression by any light. If you doubt it exists, I don't; I've heard the peddlers of these ballots brag about it, I've been asked to provide the funds for it, and I am confident it has changed at least a few close local election results.
Some issues should not be racial or partisan. Ensuring the integrity of elections is one of them. Bravo to former Rep. Davis for breaking with his party leaders to say so.
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