* The following is an opinion column by R Muse *Americans like to think their country is exceptional and in many ways it certainly is exceptional among democracies in not allowing all its citizens to vote in free and fair elections. Obviously elections are not free with the flood of outside and secret campaign donations, and one might argue successfully that if all Americans can’t vote elections can hardly be considered fair. There is an inordinate amount of attention given to the influence of “secret” money in tilting elections for Republicans, but very little about vote suppression. No matter what anyone says, money does not determine the outcome of any election, period. Because at the end of an election day election officials or voting machines do not count money; they count and tally votes. There is no evidence that Republicans are paying anyone to vote thus far. However, they are working tirelessly to restrict votes that may be cast for Democratic candidates by enacting harsh voter ID and suppression laws to help elect conservatives and Republicans. That was what former senator and current teabag president of the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation admitted during a radio interview yesterday. Jim DeMint, the former South Carolina senator, acknowledged that the rash of Republican voter ID laws rampant in red states definitely helps elect “more conservative candidates.” DeMint then asserted, strongly by the way, that the only reason Democrats oppose harsh voter suppression and ID laws is because they help Republicans. DeMint is as deceitful as he is a liar as he is opposed to the democratic process. Research, studies, and empirical data reveal there is virtually no voter fraud going on anywhere; a fact DeMint knows is indisputable. More on that later. The reason Democrats or anyone on the Left opposes “stringent voter ID requirements” is because they are created specifically to target the poor, students, the elderly, and people of color to prohibit them from exercising a basic American right to vote. If those groups believe Democrats are working for their best interest and not solely for the religious and the rich, of course they are going to vote for Democrats; they are disenfranchised, not stupid like conservative voters. DeMint continued, “The left fights voter ID or any kind of picture ID to know that it is actually a registered voter who’s voting. And so it’s something we’re working on all over the country, because in the states where they do have voter ID laws you’ve seen, actually, elections begin to change towards more conservative candidates.” The Heritage president is implying the only honest voters in America are conservatives and perpetuated the bovine excrement argument that rampant voter fraud on the left is the only reason a Democrat can win an election. In fact, when he was queried about Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s recent executive order restoring voting rights to over 200,000 Virginia residents, DeMint said exactly what one expects from Republicans entrenched in the voter suppression movement. “Governor McAuliffe is inviting more voter fraud” to help Democrats. DeMint may no longer be an officially active Republican politician, but the teabagger gave a typically Republican line about allowing Americans to vote; he said, “It’s awfully suspicious coming into a big election in a state where it’s actually pretty close. I mean, states can decide who votes, but the governor seems over the top to me. I haven’t seen a complete analysis here, but the left is trying to draw votes from illegals, from voter fraud, a lot of different things, so this kind of fits right in to trying to find another group that they can basically count on to vote their way.” It is awfully nice for DeMint to approve of states deciding who gets to vote, but he made a hypocritically atrocious claim about a Democratic state being “awfully suspicious” in restoring voting rights. This is particularly true when he just said Republicans enact harsh voter ID and suppression laws in order to disenfranchise Americans inclined to vote for Democrats and to help conservatives and Republicans win elections; a fact that no small number of Republicans have openly admitted to little outrage across Republican states. DeMint is not the first conservative to admit voter ID laws benefit Republican candidates. A Wisconsin Republican, Glenn Grothman recently boasted that enacting harsh “photo ID laws is going to make the difference” in defeating Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election. In another study published a couple of months ago by researchers at the University of California-San Diego, the results confirmed what anyone with a functioning brain already knows; Republicans’ harsh voter ID laws adversely affect the turnout of minorities and Democrats. Now, Republicans began claiming, after first losing control of Congress in 2006 and again when Barack Obama won in 2008 that out-of-control voter fraud incited their crusade to abolish the Voting Rights Act and implement the most severe vote suppression tactics since the Jim Crow era. It is noteworthy that several Republicans across the country have admitted, openly, that the voter ID and suppression tactics are to restrict tens-of-millions of Americans right to vote to help elect Republicans. And yet conservatives like DeMint continue claiming their anti-democracy efforts are simply to prevent voter fraud; something that hardly exists. Less than two years ago a comprehensive investigation of over a billion votes cast since 2000 in every primary, general, special, recall and municipal election in the entire nation revealed that there were only 31 documented cases of voter fraud over the course of thirteen years and dog knows how many state, federal, and regional elections. If the number thirty-one seems awfully small for over a billion votes cast, look at it as a percentage of over a billion votes; a stunningly small 0.000000031% over the past thirteen years. And, according to the researchers compiling those figures, it is more likely than not “that any fraud was more as a result of errors than deliberate cheating.” Republicans are well aware they can hardly win if there are fair elections that allow all Americans to vote or they would not enact vote suppression and absurd voter ID laws. The sad fact is that their efforts have been successful with the valuable assistance of the Koch acolytes on the Supreme Court, and their crusade is ramping up across the nation, just as DeMint promised. The message to anyone on the Left concerned about keeping America a semi-democratic nation is stop the pleading for money, stop signing and starting worthless petitions, and for dog’s sake stop the childish bickering about who is the most ideologically pure and start working to get people registered and informed to vote. Otherwise, you’ll be home pissing and moaning when Donald Trump is elected president and Republicans increase their majorities in Congress. Because evangelical fanatics, gun-toting “patriots,” anti-women misogynists, and racist pigs always turn out to vote en masse. And, they faithfully vote for the Republican candidate whether or not they are ideologically pure enough and regardless if their champion du jour is on the ballot; something the Left is incapable of doing regularly if at all.