Posted: 03/21/12 05:01 pm

It’s time to get to the root of all the consternation about states requiring photo IDs to vote: The progressives, it seems to me, want to cheat. They hope to have illegal aliens and other ineligible sorts hasten to the polls to help elect Democrats come November.

I hate to sound so suspicious of all those handwringers on TV telling us that attempts to stop ballot-box shenanigans are a conspiracy to deny a sacred right to the old, the lame, minorities and the poor. Maybe these people are just paranoid — the left is that way these days — but the arguments are so preposterous that you figure many could themselves be up to some grand mischief.

Their worry isn’t just that you need a photo ID to get a beer, drive a car or fly on a plane. It’s that states enacting new election laws are making it easy and cheap or even free to obtain a photo ID. These are very nearly the opposite of the Jim Crow atrocities by which Southern blacks got to vote only if all bigoted enforcers miraculously fell dead on the spot. The new laws are just.

The laws are so wonderfully just, in fact, that they appear to be the reason for higher voter turnouts in some states, some suggesting that faith in the electoral system has been restored. But Attorney General Eric Holder and others fretting about rights interventions do not mention that phenomenon, even though, by some of their other actions, they signal that Hispanic votes, legal or otherwise, are growing in number and importance.

Thus the administration rushed to argue that Arizona should not be allowed to protect itself from border-crossing criminals for fear some innocent citizens might be queried. This is supposed to make all Hispanics cheer, especially when hallucinators add that the GOP plans to have agents hustle about, rounding up undocumented children and old people. From the rhetoric, you would almost think that Republicans were plotting to force illegal aliens to walk barefoot on gravel back to Mexico.

I grant that the issue of some 11 million or so illegals in this country is perplexing — we must be humane even as we discourage the undocumented from entry and seek immediate evictions of felons and gradual departures by many others. We tried amnesty under President Ronald Reagan and it did not work. The imperative is being reasonable, which few on the left try to foster, just as their argument on voter fraud is not the least bit reasonable. They say it is nothing to worry about.

Voter fraud is about as old as elections. It is as constant as political ambition. We have it today; it has made winners of losers, and if you think it could be a lot worse, you are right. Part of political wisdom is taking note of signs of what could happen. That’s scarcely objectionable when the preventive measures are mild safeguards against massive malfeasance that could very well thwart the will of the people in important elections this fall.

Please note that some progressives, such as a mayor in New Haven, Conn., have actually sought legal means to allow illegals to vote. I, for one, am confident that lots of progressives think society would be marvelously served, and no real wrong committed, if vast numbers of the ineligible illegally voted this time around. Why, they’d probably vote for progressives, and what a victory that would be for statism.

No thank you, fraud abettors.

Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, lives in Colorado.

The Times Herald - Ambrose: The progressive campaign for voter fraud