Conservative leader makes inadvertent admission, then retracts:
Minnesota state House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R), who is strongly pushing for passage of a voter ID law, has now backed away from comments he made in a radio appearance on Wednesday — when he said of the act of voting: “I think it’s a privilege, it’s not a right.”
“When you go to even a Burger King or a McDonald’s and use your debit card, they’ll ask you to see your ID,” Zellers said during a late-night interview, the Star Tribune reports. “Should we have to do that when we vote, something that is one of the most sacred — I think it’s a privilege, it’s not a right. Everybody doesn’t get it, because if you go to jail or if you commit some heinous crime your rights are taken away. This is a privilege.”
His personal opinion on voting is interesting, in terms of understanding the conservative soul, but here’s the text:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
“I think it’s a privilege not a right” and “This is a privilege” are extremely definitive statements to make in error, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he now knows voting is a right.
Now that he’s learned voting is a right, I’d like to ask this conservative leader why he compared voting to a private commercial transaction in a fast food restaurant. Because using a debit card isn’t a right, and driving a car isn’t a right, nor is purchasing alcohol or cashing a check or any of the other ridiculous examples conservatives and media use when they’re trying to change public opinion and perception and present voting as a privilege rather than a right. They’re still wrong. Voting is a right, so a comparison to commercial transactions or any random privilege is inaccurate. It’s a poor comparison. Yet, conservatives and media persist in disseminating these misleading comparisons.
In any event, A brand new voter suppression law in Minnesota won’t stop the accusations from conservatives that voters and others are breaking the law. I know this because Ohio passed a voter ID law well prior to the 2006 elections, and nothing changed. Conservatives and media promoted the voter fraud lie in Ohio all through the 2008 election, after passage of Ohio’s voter ID law.
Passage of the law made no difference at all. The ID provisions made no difference at all. The completely unsubstantiated accusations that voters were breaking the law continued.
Voter fraud is like birtherism. No matter how many documents the voter presents, no matter how many hoops the targeted voter jumps through, conservatives and media will continue to launch and promote this completely baseless attack, because repeating the accusation over and over and over is the whole point of the exercise. They’ll repeat it until it sticks to the voters who are the target of the attacks, voter ID law or no voter ID law.
Here’s an excellent primer on the politics of voter fraud accusations (pdf)