The most volatile combination of events on Nov. 6 would be a very close election in which Mitt Romney wins the electoral vote with knife-edge victories in states like Florida, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin. If new voter ID laws survive legal challenges in those Republican-controlled battleground states, a marginal Romney victory would powerfully reinforce the belief on the left that some lawfully registered voters were denied the right to exercise their franchise.
Conversely, if local and federal challenges to voter ID laws are successful, and Obama wins a tight re-election race, the belief on the right that felons and illegal immigrants cast crucial ballots will be reinforced.
Almost a half century after the enactment of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the question of who votes will not be resolved on the merits. The courts will address the dispute, and their rulings will matter. But the struggle over this fundamental citizenship right is intensely partisan and explicitly political. It can only be resolved at the ballot box.
In other news, friends of the shooting victim mourned a young life brutally cut short, while supporters of the shooter argued that the son-of-a-bitch had it coming. Which viewpoint will prevail with independent voters in the swing states remains to be seen.
There’s a difference between the belief on the right that elections are being stolen by ineligible voters and the belief on the left that eligible voters are being denied the right to vote. The former belief is, to use a technical epistemological term, false, while the latter, and the related claim that those voters are disproportionately non-white and poor, are demonstrably true.
Footnote Even within his own canons, Edsall could have – arguably should have – reported that at least one prominent Republican has boasted that the Pennsylvania law was designed to help Mitt Romney carry the state, and that the former chair of the Florida Republican party claims that officials openly discussed suppressing minority voting.