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Port: Sen. Cramer, you can't fight hypocrisy with hypocrisy

It is absolutely hypocritical that Democrats who revile the idea of requiring a state-issued ID to vote are enthusiastic about requiring a vaccine passport to eat a burger with a friend. Cramer is right to call that out. But he's wrong to try to fight that hypocrisy with more hypocrisy.

Kevin Cramer
Senator Kevin Cramer (R - North Dakota)
Forum News Service file photo
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MINOT, N.D. — During a recent appearance on the Larry Kudlow show on Fox Business, Sen. Kevin Cramer, rightly, decried Democratic efforts to federalize elections.

“[Democratic Majority] Leader Schumer wants to bring up the voting rights bill which is just an absolute fake crisis that they're trying to create so they can open up the doors for a federal overtaking of our state election system," Cramer told Kudlow. "When the states created the federal government, I like to stress that the states created the federal government, they put certain safeguards in place. The United States Senate is one of those safeguards that looks out for millions of people that might be in a different part of the country than the majority. It’s worked very well to this point."

"Our voting system has been successful. You may not like what another state does but that is the other state's business," Cramer continued. "Certainly we don't want to mandate things like ballot harvesting or not allowing states to secure their votes with a simple voter ID bill that is already an idea that has been upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States. No, it is just all drama to try to federalize exactly what happened in the last election and that is wide open access to ballot harvesting, vote by mail, same-day registration, all of which create opportunities for mischief and all of which should be determined by states, not by the federal government.” 

Outside of some dismissive comments about the Jan. 6, 2021, riot — the ugly violence of which I wish more Republicans like Cramer would be willing to acknowledge in a forthright way — these comments are a wonderful defense of federalism.

Our state governments have broad latitude, within the bounds of the Constitution, to implement the sort of policies their elected leaders feel are best, including election policy. That's as it should be. If you don't like what North Dakota is doing on voter ID, tough noogies.

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I don't like much of what California is doing these days, but that's not my problem. I don't live in California.

The problem with Cramer's articulate expression of federalist principle is there's recent evidence suggesting he doesn't mean it.

In August of last year, Cramer announced his intention to introduce legislation forcing states that take federal election money and implement vaccine passports to also implement voter ID requirements for voters.

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“If states that take federal money for elections feel the need to make residents verify a piece of information as private as their vaccination status just to return to normalcy, then they should have no problem requiring people to prove they are who they say they are when they go to vote,” Cramer is quoted as saying in an August release sent out by his office .

Cramer is still standing behind this bill, which has been introduced, despite his recent comments in favor of federalism. "It seems just logical that if I had to show Bill de Blasio something that’s personal and private just to have a steak dinner in New York City, the least he should do is require people to prove they are who they say they are before they take on the very important responsibility of voting," Cramer told a Washington, D.C., Fox affiliate .

I suspect this voter ID bill isn't a serious piece of policy. It's unlikely that Cramer believes it will actually become law. But even if it's just an exercise in point-making, and exposing Democratic hypocrisy, there remains the fact that he introduced a bill that, if passed, would do something he has expressly condemned.

If Cramer believes federal laws prohibiting state-implemented voter ID requirements are an affront to the concept of federalism that's at the heart of the American system of government, then how does he justify introducing a bill that would mandate ID requirements?

It is absolutely hypocritical that Democrats who revile the idea of requiring a state-issued ID to vote are enthusiastic about requiring a vaccine passport to eat a burger with a friend. Cramer is right to call that out. But he's wrong to try to fight that hypocrisy with more hypocrisy.

Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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