Are Minorities too Dumb to get ID?

Attacking North Carolina's new voter ID law as the "harshest voter suppression law in the nation," the ACLU's North Carolina chapter saluted the U.S. Justice Department for filing a lawsuit on Sept. 30 challenging the law.

Like Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., the ACLU considers minorities haplessly incompetent at the monumental task of acquiring IDs. The Justice Department's lawsuit claims that minority voters are less likely to have common photo IDs and that shortening the early voting period would also disproportionately affect minorities.

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the bill in August, defended the new law, noting that President Obama had presented a photo ID when voting in Chicago in 2012.

"I believe if showing a voter ID is good enough and fair enough for our own president in Illinois, it's good enough for the people in North Carolina," McCrory said. "I think it is obviously influenced by national politics since the Justice Department ignores similar laws in other blue states."

Although Illinois' voting law does not require photo IDs to vote on Election Day, it does stipulate that people voting early, as Mr. Obama did, must show a photo ID.

The Justice Department's North Carolina lawsuit, McCrory said, is "overreach and without merit. I firmly believe we've done the right thing. I believe this is good law. And I strongly disagree with the action that the attorney general has taken."

In August, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, and Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed a federal lawsuit, League of Women Voters of North Carolina et al. v. North Carolina, against the new law.

The suit was filed "on behalf of several North Carolinians who will face substantial hardship under the law, as well as organizations whose efforts to promote voter participation in future elections will be severely hampered if the measure takes effect," an ACLU press release said.

The ACLU suit specifically targets provisions of the law that shorten early voting, end same-day registration, and bar "out-of-precinct" voting -- all reforms aimed at thwarting vote fraud.

On Aug. 22, ignoring the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in June striking down portions of the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department filed a similar lawsuit against Texas, alleging disparate impact on minorities of tightened voter ID requirements.

"We will not allow the Supreme Court's recent decision to be interpreted as open season for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights," Holder said in a statement.

The key defense for early voting and absentee balloting, both of which enhance the opportunity for vote fraud, is that they increase voter turnout. But there is no evidence for this claim.

"All these provisions have failed to increase voter turnout," writes John Fund in his 2008 book Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy. "It's about time that someone stepped forward and admitted that the root cause of low turnout isn't restrictive voting laws, but voter apathy. People are fed up with mediocre candidates, gerrymandered districts and uncompetitive (and possibly illegitimate) elections."

That's why a Democrat-controlled Rhode Island legislature in 2011 enacted a strict voter ID law. The statute directs the Secretary of State's office to provide free voter IDs for those who lack them, requires some form of ID at the polls through 2013, and for voters to show a photo ID to vote in 2014.

Minority legislators led the charge to tighten the voting law. Unlike the ACLU and Eric Holder, they don't think minority citizens are less capable than other Americans.

Robert Knight is Senior Fellow for the American Civil Rights Union.

Attacking North Carolina's new voter ID law as the "harshest voter suppression law in the nation," the ACLU's North Carolina chapter saluted the U.S. Justice Department for filing a lawsuit on Sept. 30 challenging the law.

Like Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., the ACLU considers minorities haplessly incompetent at the monumental task of acquiring IDs. The Justice Department's lawsuit claims that minority voters are less likely to have common photo IDs and that shortening the early voting period would also disproportionately affect minorities.

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the bill in August, defended the new law, noting that President Obama had presented a photo ID when voting in Chicago in 2012.

"I believe if showing a voter ID is good enough and fair enough for our own president in Illinois, it's good enough for the people in North Carolina," McCrory said. "I think it is obviously influenced by national politics since the Justice Department ignores similar laws in other blue states."

Although Illinois' voting law does not require photo IDs to vote on Election Day, it does stipulate that people voting early, as Mr. Obama did, must show a photo ID.

The Justice Department's North Carolina lawsuit, McCrory said, is "overreach and without merit. I firmly believe we've done the right thing. I believe this is good law. And I strongly disagree with the action that the attorney general has taken."

In August, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, and Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed a federal lawsuit, League of Women Voters of North Carolina et al. v. North Carolina, against the new law.

The suit was filed "on behalf of several North Carolinians who will face substantial hardship under the law, as well as organizations whose efforts to promote voter participation in future elections will be severely hampered if the measure takes effect," an ACLU press release said.

The ACLU suit specifically targets provisions of the law that shorten early voting, end same-day registration, and bar "out-of-precinct" voting -- all reforms aimed at thwarting vote fraud.

On Aug. 22, ignoring the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in June striking down portions of the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department filed a similar lawsuit against Texas, alleging disparate impact on minorities of tightened voter ID requirements.

"We will not allow the Supreme Court's recent decision to be interpreted as open season for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights," Holder said in a statement.

The key defense for early voting and absentee balloting, both of which enhance the opportunity for vote fraud, is that they increase voter turnout. But there is no evidence for this claim.

"All these provisions have failed to increase voter turnout," writes John Fund in his 2008 book Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy. "It's about time that someone stepped forward and admitted that the root cause of low turnout isn't restrictive voting laws, but voter apathy. People are fed up with mediocre candidates, gerrymandered districts and uncompetitive (and possibly illegitimate) elections."

That's why a Democrat-controlled Rhode Island legislature in 2011 enacted a strict voter ID law. The statute directs the Secretary of State's office to provide free voter IDs for those who lack them, requires some form of ID at the polls through 2013, and for voters to show a photo ID to vote in 2014.

Minority legislators led the charge to tighten the voting law. Unlike the ACLU and Eric Holder, they don't think minority citizens are less capable than other Americans.

Robert Knight is Senior Fellow for the American Civil Rights Union.

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