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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Justice Department aggressively challenges unjust Voter ID laws

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 12:07 PM

After Gov. Perdue vetoed the Voter ID bill, Republicans in the General Assembly pulled a procedural maneuver that will allow them to reintroduce the bill in 2012. Whether they will do so remains to be seen. Although half of the GOP’s base (the “bigots” part of the Billionaires & Bigots Republican grand coalition) still fervently supports a Voter ID law, recent U.S. Department of Justice actions and horror stories of eligible citizens being denied voter ID’s in states that have passed Voter ID laws, should make the N.C. Legislature think twice before reintroducing the bill.

The Justice Department told South Carolina it will block that state’s recently passed Voter ID law because the state’s own statistics showed that the photo identification requirement would have a much greater impact on non-white residents. The federal government is required by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to review and rule on any attempts to change election rules in states with a strong history of racial discrimination at the polls. The feds also have asked for more information about Texas’ recently passed Voter ID law, which indicates that the Justice Department is aggressively placing itself in opposition to the kinds of photo ID requirements passed by a number of GOP-controlled state legislatures.

Forty counties in North Carolina are covered by the Voting Rights Act, so the feds will also review and rule on any new voter regulations passed in Raleigh. Frankly, that’s good news for voting rights advocates and, you know, fans of democracy and such. It’s also good to have a Department of Justice that actually gives a rip about actual justice for a change.

On top of the whole national Voter ID campaign being a transparent attempt to suppress votes among some traditionally Democratic voting blocs (senior citizens, blacks, students and the poor), implementation of Voter ID laws are causing problems in some states. The latest examples are from Tennessee, where Thelma Mitchell, a 93-year-old woman who cleaned the state Capitol there for 30 years, was denied a Voter ID last week after being told that her old state ID didn’t meet the new voter ID regs. When Mitchell couldn’t produce a birth certificate (she has never had one), the state employee she spoke with suggested that Mitchell might be an illegal immigrant.

As Think Progress reports, Tennessee has also denied a voter ID for a 96-year-old Tennessee woman because she didn’t have her marriage license; a 91-year-old woman couldn’t get an ID because she was unable to stand in a long line at the DMV; and an 86-year-old World War II vet was told that he had to pay an unconstitutional poll tax if he wanted to obtain an ID. These kinds of problems can be worked through, but, in the first place, voters in America shouldn’t have to jump through a bunch of hoops to exercise one of their fundamental rights. Especially when the so-called voter fraud the Voter ID laws are ostensibly meant to fight is a non-existent, or at worst extremely rare, occurrence. N.C. lawmakers, take note.

Photo: http://www.crmvet.org/info/votehist.htm

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