A Republican-backed voter ID bill, one of the most stringent in the nation, passed Wisconsin’s State Assembly last night. The bill now goes to the State Senate, where it seems assured of passage.

Wisconsin is one of a long list of states considering similar legislation this year. Though voter fraud in Wisconsin is minimal — sources say only twenty votes were cast illegally in the state’s most recent election — the law would impose new barriers to voting among students, the elderly, and the poor, all of which are traditionally Democratic constituencies. At a time of massive budget cutbacks, moreover, the legislation carries an estimated $7 million pricetag.

One last-minute change to the legislation makes its aims crystal clear — though it was originally drafted to be implemented next spring, supporters rewrote it to take effect immediately on passage … just in time, in other words, to be deployed in the upcoming special elections which will decide the fate of state legislators targeted for recall over their recent budget votes.