Add late-night comic Trevor Noah to the list of ill-informed lefties who consider voter identification a "racist" demand intended to "suppress" the black vote.
"Isn't it interesting," Noah said, "how every time Republicans create a voting restriction, it just so happens to disproportionately affect people of the brown-brown? ... Let's be honest, you don't have to say who you're targeting to target someone. You just have to know which rules are likely to hit them the most."
Noah echoes the sentiment of then-Attorney General Eric Holder, who in 2014 characterized the call for voter ID laws as an example of "pernicious" racism. Last week, MSNBC's Chris Matthews told Holder's successor, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, that Republicans push voter ID laws to "screw the African-American voter." Lynch responded: "Yes, yes — and it's nothing new. ... This is a historical issue. It's a current issue. And it's only history because it happened to somebody else, not because it could never happen again. That's what's happening now."
Former Vice President Joe Biden called Trump's assertion that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election a "flat lie." But Biden did not stop there. The Republican support for voter ID, he said, was all about suppressing minority votes: "It's what these guys are all about, man. Republicans don't want working-class people voting. They don't want black folks voting." Last year, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., denounced "racist voter ID laws and voter suppression tactics (that) sprout like weeds all across the country." In a press conference in July, CNN's April Ryan asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders: "So, Sarah, since you keep saying that the President is very concerned about the election process ... you did not mention voter suppression in that. Voter suppression has been an issue for decades and particularly in these last few elections."
Despite these alleged racist roadblocks to the ballot box, in 2008 blacks voted at a higher percentage than whites. That same year, liberal Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote one of the majority opinions in a 6-3 case that upheld Indiana's voter ID law, which required voters to show a photo ID — such as a driver's license or passport — before casting their votes. Stevens recognized "flagrant examples of (voter) fraud" throughout America's history and wrote that "not only is the risk of voter fraud real" but "it could affect the outcome of a close election." The additional burden on voters, Stevens argued, is more than offset by "the state's interest in counting only the votes of eligible voters."
Blacks also support voter ID. A 2016 Gallup poll found that 77 percent of non-whites support voter ID, nearly as high as the 81 percent of whites who support it.
The fact that voter ID is legal and popular does not, of course, affect the view that it "suppresses" the minority vote. The George Soros-supported website ThinkProgress ran a story last year with this menacing headline: "New Study Confirms that Voter ID Laws Are Very Racist."
Citing research by three professors from U.C. San Diego, Michigan State and Bucknell University, the article says: "turnout among Hispanic voters is '7.1 percentage points lower in general elections and 5.3 points lower in primaries' in states with strict voter ID laws. The laws also reduce turnout among African-American and Asian-American voters. White turnout, according to their study, is 'largely unaffected.'"
Case closed? Not exactly.
A follow-up study by researchers from Yale, Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania found no evidence that voter ID laws have a statistically significant impact on voter turnout. This study examined the methodology and conclusions of the previous study. Its researchers wrote: "Widespread concern that voter identification laws suppress turnout among racial and ethnic minorities has made empirical evaluations of these laws crucial. But problems with administrative records and survey data impede such evaluations. ... We show that the results of the paper are a product of data inaccuracies (and) the presented evidence does not support the stated conclusion ... When errors are corrected, one can recover positive, negative or null estimates of the effect of voter ID laws on turnout, precluding firm conclusions."
In other words, the data do not support the notion that the "brown-brown" are too dumb, too lazy or otherwise incapable of obtaining the necessary identification to vote.
Larry Elder is a best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com. Follow Larry on Twitter @larryelder. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.