In case you missed it, N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis appeared on MSNBC this weekend with a bit of a revelation: Voter fraud is "not the primary reason" for N.C.'s impending voter ID legislation.
Well, that's a bit of new messaging from Republicans. But it's also progress. As critics of voter ID laws have long said, they solve a problem that doesn't exist - fraud at the polls - while ignoring the fraud that's more likely to occur in registration or absentee ballots.
So if it's not really fraud that North Carolina's legislation is tackling, what will the bill try to accomplish? "We call this restoring confidence in government," Tillis told host Craig Melton.
And people might lack confidence because of ... "the potential risk of fraud," Tillis says.
Got it? No? Let's clear this one up for you. N.C. Republicans are introducing a bill designed to make North Carolinians more confident in the voting process. The reason some voters might not be confident in the voting process is because Republicans manufactured the fiction that voter fraud is a problem.
As we've said here before, we could live with voter ID laws, so long as they ensure that not only are those IDs free, but that the paperwork required to get the IDs (such as birth certificates) is also free and easy to obtain. That way, tens of thousands of N.C. voters are not blocked from casting a ballot.
Or, it might be easier and less costly for N.C. Republicans to just say, "After looking into it, turns out that voter fraud at the polls isn't really an issue. Let's focus on important stuff." That might restore some confidence in government - and also N.C. Republicans.
Peter St. Onge