VOTER ID….Peter Wallsten has a long story in the LA Times today about conservative efforts to pass laws that require voters to show a picture ID in order to vote in state and national elections. This is, rather plainly, an effort to reduce Democratic turnout, since people who don’t have picture IDs (the poor, the elderly, and minorities) tend to vote disproportionately for Democrats.

Of course, that’s not what conservatives say. What they say is that this is an effort to cut down on voter fraud. This, then, presents an obvious question: is there, in fact, any widespread evidence of the kind of voter fraud that picture IDs would prevent? You have to wait until nearly the last paragraph of the story for this question to even be addressed, in a description of a court battle currently being fought in Arizona:

A lawyer for the state argued that the voting system was vulnerable to fraud by impersonators and noncitizens; lawyers fighting the new law said there was little to no evidence of past fraud.

Pathetic, no? This is probably the key question in the whole controversy, and the story doesn’t even make an attempt to say anything about. That state lawyer, of course, is quite correct: there is virtually no evidence of anything more than minuscule amounts of fraud associated with impersonation of legitimate voters. You would think, perhaps, that this would be important enough to make it into the story.

Alternatively, conservatives could put their money where their mouth is by supporting ID laws that include aggressive provisions to ensure that everyone has quick and easy access to proper ID, free of charge. Or that ID would also be required for those who vote by mail, who are predominantly white, upper income, and Republican. But they don’t. I wonder why?