This might be the first time I’ve agreed with Artur Davis. It might be the last time I’ll agree with him. After reading his op-ed, I’ll enthusiastically agree with Rep. Davis. Here’s what he said that I enthusiastically agree with:

I’ve changed my mind on voter ID laws; I think Alabama did the right thing in passing one; and I wish I had gotten it right when I was in political office.

When I was a congressman, I took the path of least resistance on this subject for an African American politician. Without any evidence to back it up, I lapsed into the rhetoric of various partisans and activists who contend that requiring photo identification to vote is a suppression tactic aimed at thwarting black voter participation.

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.

I’ll give Rep. Davis alot of credit. Writing this op-ed won’t make Davis more popular with his former colleagues. This is a genuine profile in courage, at least on this issue. The thing that jumps off the page most to me is this:

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.

This isn’t a conspiracy theory from a white guy living in rural Minnesota. It’s a statement by a black man living in the heart of Alabama who’s heard people brag about committing voter fraud.

There’s no question about Rep. Davis’ credibility on this issue. He’s got nothing to gain from taking this position. In fact, as I stated earlier, he’s got alot to lose by adopting this position. This takes courage to say, too:

The fact that a law that is unlikely to impede a single good faith voter, and that only gives voting the same elements of security as writing a check at the store, or obtaining a library card, is controversial does say much about the raw feelings in our current politics. The ugliest, hardest forms of disfranchisement were practiced in our lifetimes, and its still conventional rhetoric in black political circles to say those times are on the way back. Witness a last-minute automated call to black voters in the 2010 general election by state Sen. Hank Sanders, an ingenious lawyer and a skillful legislator who knew better, but who also knew the attack would resonate.

Think of the importance of the first clause in the sentence: “a law that is unlikely to impede a single good faith voter…” That’s a profound statement especially from a black man living in Alabama. Let’s remember that Alabama was where racist Gov. George Wallace practiced his racism from. TRIVIA: Wallace ran for president 4 times, 3 times as a Democrat.

The $64,000 question this poses is to the DFL legislature, DFL SecState Mark Ritchie and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. Does the DFL, from Gov. Dayton to SecState Ritchie to Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk, want to fight Photo ID here in Minnesota now that Artur Davis has admitted that voter fraud exists?

Do these DFL ‘leaders’ want to hang vulnerable swing district DFL legislators out to dry on an issue that garners 80% support statewide? Do these DFL legislators want to argue with a black Democrat from Alabama when he says he’s heard people bragging about committing voter fraud?

God bless them if they do. If Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen push their vulnerable legislators into voting against Photo ID, they’ll be a much smaller minority caucus in 2013.

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