Back in 2010, an airline passenger named John Tyner became a cult hero with a YouTube recording of a Transportation Safety Administration patdown. Mr. Tyner's voice could be heard protesting, "Don't touch my junk!"
The recording went viral because very few fliers sew bombs into their underwear. Citizens in a free country that have done nothing wrong often take offense at having the government invade their privacy with no evidence of wrongdoing.
It's helpful to think of the current voter identification debate in that context.
Republicans are the TSA.
One of the most basic rights of citizenship, the right to vote, is Americans' um, junk.
Colorado and Florida offer illuminating examples of this metaphor in action.
Both of those presidential swing states were targeted by Republicans in their national strategy of voter suppression. While neither state was able to pass strict voter identification laws, as happened in several other states, each state had a Republican secretary of state who set out to purge the voter rolls of potential noncitizen voters.
Colorado's Scott Gessler and Florida's Kurt Browning compared voting registration databases with driver's license databases. They found thousands of people who didn't have driver's licenses (and thus, according to their curious logic, might not be citizens) but were registered to vote. A high number of those people were minorities, particularly Latinos. They received letters suggesting that they'd have to prove they were real Americans.
Nearly everybody who received such a letter was, indeed, a citizen.
Their junk had been touched. It wasn't random, like the TSA patdowns are supposed to be. No, they were profiled as likely Democratic voters.
In Colorado, less than 0.004 percent of the voters ultimately were identified as possible noncitizens. Mr. Gessler dropped the effort as he ran out of time to give due process to the targets of his witch hunt.
The Department of Justice stepped in this year to stop the voter purge in Florida.
From the beginning, the voter identification movement has been a solution in search of a problem. All of the evidence, particularly that compiled by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan think tank, shows that wrong-identity vote fraud is virtually nonexistent.
But the very act of sending voters, particularly new citizens, letters questioning their right to vote, could well keep them away from the polls.
A Pennsylvania judge this week put that state's new voter identification law on hold, ruling there's not enough time to get qualified voters who don't have photo identification the documents they need without interfering with their right to vote.
In Missouri, the Supreme Court threw out a dishonestly worded voter identification ballot issue as unconstitutional. Missouri Republicans had time to fix their problem, but didn't. Telling the truth would have exposed their crusade as a fraud.
That's what happened in both South Carolina and Pennsylvania, where Republican leaders admitted voter identification laws were purely intended to help get Republican Mitt Romney elected.
The voter ID crusade is nothing but an organized attempt to steal an election by patting down any voter who doesn't look or feel like a likely Republican vote. The movement itself has been exposed, over and over again, as the real fraud.
The GOP should junk it and try to win the election with actual ideas.
Distributed by MCT Information Services