Rep. Steve King has long been, like Slipknot and jokes about corn, one of the most embarrassing things about being from Iowa. He has made himself one of the most quotable right-wing zealots in Congress, from his comparison of illegal immigrants to stray cats to his recent assertion that al-Qaida would "dance in the streets" if Barack Obama is elected president.
His public statements underline a voting record that is among the most conservative in the nation. He opposes equal rights for gays and lesbians and consistently votes against life-saving stem-cell research.
Small wonder, then, that when another good bill comes to Congress, King is one of the first to oppose it. Senate File 2959 would help boost voter participation by making same-day registration available at all polling places. Simply missing a deadline for filling out a form should not preclude voters from exercising their rights as U.S. citizens.
King, of course, does not see it that way. He rails that the bill would "erode the integrity of the people who are legitimate voters," according to the Associated Press. This is a not-very-subtle way of saying that illegal immigrants will dilute the voting power of law-abiding citizens, a standard GOP response to attempts to make voting easier.
Unfortunately for King, there's simply no evidence that illegal immigrants are voting, nor that there is some nefarious epidemic of voter fraud at our polling places that must be corrected by tightening security. Pushing back against bills like this - as well as enacting laws similar to Indiana's now-famous state ID act - are attempting to fix problems that don't exist. In fact, the main threat to the integrity of the vote comes from suspect electronic voting machines manufactured by Republican-connected companies.
In a country with some of the lowest voter-turnout rates of any modern democracy, moves to increase participation should be applauded. When turnout is high, government can more accurately represent the needs of the citizenry. King should reconsider his opposition to this good law.