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July 11, 2012

A politician who did what was right

It is rare in American politics _ exceedingly rare in an election year _ to find a true profile in courage, someone who does something because it is right rather than doing what is politically expedient.

Such a person is Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican.

Like so many other states with a GOP-dominated legislature, Michigan passed a law that would require photo identification in order to vote. But Snyder vetoed the legislation.

Michigan's current law allows people to sign an affidavit and vote if they don't have a state-sanctioned I.D.

In 2011 and 2012, more than 30 states considered Republican-initiated legislation to institute or strengthen voter identification laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

This has been called a solution in search of a problem.

The reason it has been called that is because that is exactly what it is.

During the George W. Bush administration, the Justice Department did a five-year investigation of voter fraud. Out of the millions and millions and millions of people who cast ballots during that time, only 86 were convicted of that crime, according to The New York Times.

This voter I.D. nonsense has also been called a blatant, callous, organized attempt by the Republican Party to steal state, federal and presidential elections by disenfranchising legitimate voters.

The reason it has been called that is because that is exactly what it is.

For instance, take Pennsylvania, usually a reliable Democratic state in presidential elections.

Pennsylvania, however, has passed a law that requires voters to show photo identification.

State officials estimate that as many as 9.2 percent of all registered voters in that state _ 758,939 people _ do not have a state driver's license that would serve as an I.D. at the polls.

A good many of those people are minorities, the elderly and city dwellers _ in other words, Democrats.

Mike Turzai, the majority leader of the state's House of Representatives, crowed at a recent meeting of the Republican State Committee: "Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania -- done."

Democrats, the Justice Department and others concerned about this reprehensible power-grab have taken the Pennsylvania law and those in other states to court. This week, a federal panel is hearing arguments on Texas' law.

Amid all this GOP mischief, were it not for Chief Justice John Roberts voting to uphold President Barack Obama's health care law, Snyder would be the most vilified person among Republicans in the country.

But what this Republican did in Michigan shines like a lone beacon of fairness, integrity, and yes, courage.

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