CHARLESTON,W.Va. -- During a newspaper interview, Delegate Danny Wells, D-Kanawha, was blunt about voter identification laws passed by GOP legislators around America.
"It's my opinion that the voter ID is a calculated effort, mainly by Republicans, to make it harder for blacks and other groups of people to vote," Wells told Daily Mail editors.
He nailed it. Requiring voters to show government-issued photo ID cards is a GOP plot to obstruct voting by African Americans, oldsters, students, the poor, the disabled and others who are least likely to have driver licenses -- and are most likely to vote Democratic. Republican claims that the laws fight vote fraud is a sham, because voting under a false name almost never occurs.
Middle-class whites can't understand the ID problem, because it's easy for them to flash driver licenses. But large numbers of low-income folks -- far more than you'd expect: about 7 percent of the electorate, by one estimate -- don't have cars or licenses. And it's difficult for them to reach motor vehicle offices and stand in line to get substitute IDs.
With a desperately close national election looming Tuesday -- and with millions of Americans too bored or alienated to vote -- state-level outcomes may be affected by a tiny number of voters. Just a few could reverse a state's winner-take-all electoral result. No wonder Republican legislators try so hard to hinder as many Democratic votes as possible.
This year, various Democrats won court victories against the GOP vote-blocking scheme. We hope it was enough to prevent disenfranchisement of significant groups.
Meanwhile, Tuesday's election may be swayed by other factors.
For example, the notorious 2010 Citizens United ruling by conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices allowed corporations and billionaires to pour unlimited money into political campaigns, mostly for smear ads against Democrats.
And the latest Harper's magazine warns that touch-screen voting machines leaving no paper record -- common in many places, but not in West Virginia, thank heaven -- can be manipulated electronically by savvy crooks.
These are some matters to keep in mind while the nation holds its breath over the closest election in recent memory.