Fraudulent Voter ID Laws Get Called What They Are
July 17, 2012 7:35 am
The soundbites from last week’s NAACP convention keep piling up. Mitt Romney’s promise to repeal Obamacare was met with boos, Alice McAfee was given a standing ovation as a representative of striking Houston janitors, and Attorney General Eric Holder called out voter ID laws for what they really are: voter discrimination posing as fraud prevention.
Holder did not mince words when he correctly situated the new laws in their historical place. From The New York Times:
“In our efforts to protect voting rights and to prevent voting fraud, we will be vigilant and strong,” Mr. Holder said. “But let me be clear: we will not allow political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right.”
“The arc of American history has always moved toward expanding the electorate,” he said. “It is what has made this nation exceptional. We will simply not allow this era to be the beginning of the reversal of that historic progress.”
As Talking Points Memo reported, Mr. Holder went further in an ad-lib. After noting that many legitimate voters without a photo ID “would have to travel great distances to get them, and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them.” He added, “[w]e call those poll taxes.” The comment about “poll taxes,” a tactic used by Southern states during the Jim Crow era to keep African-Americans from voting, was not part of Holder’s prepared remarks circulated among reporters.
In the past two years, 11 states have passed voter ID laws, ostensibly to prevent voter impersonation at the polls. The Los Angeles Times opines on the actual likelihood of this occurance:
In the 2008 Supreme Court ruling upholding an Indiana photo ID law, Justice John Paul Stevens, referring to the in-person impersonation the law was designed to prevent, conceded that the record “contains no evidence of any such fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history.” In a detailed 2007 study of voter fraud allegations, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School concluded that voter impersonation was “more rare than death by lightning.”
The voter ID laws, in their current form will disenfranchise minority voters disproportionately. Photo ID centers are out of the way, cost money, and require documentation that can be difficult to obtain. The Los Angeles Times article reports that a recent study indicates approximately 800,000 voters lack photo ID in Pennslvania, a state that recently passed a voter ID law. In a stunning burst of legislative hubris, Rep. Mike Turzai showed his hand, declaring, “voter ID is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
It comes as no surprise that the spate of voter ID legislation emanates from GOP lawmakers and conservative lobbying groups like ALEC.
In their Politically Uncorrected column, Dr. G. Terry Madonna and Dr. Michael Young (of Franklin and Marshall and Penn State Universities, respectively), blast holes in the motives and execution of voter ID laws:
Voter ID was not well thought out, planned or executed. Many legislators voting for it did not know how many people would be affected. In addition, the noxious whiff of voter suppression motives is pervasive. There cannot be a greater crime in a democracy than systematically attempting to prevent eligible voters from exercising the franchise. It’s truly a repulsive act.
What should we do now?
Common sense screams the obvious solution. We should simply suspend implementation of the new law until an election or two of trial runs shows us how it works and with what effects. Rolling it out in the middle of a presidential contest is sheer folly.
Fortunately, voters lacking ID have powerful voices coming to their aide — and with a close presidential race approaching and Romney’s policies clearly favoring big business interests, every voice needs to be heard.
Image from here