REFLECTIONS

Posted on July 17, 2012

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STATE LAWS MUZZLE VOTERS

An election is intended to reflect the will of the people. Fair elections are the heart of a democracy.

But the integrity of our elections are threatened by new state laws requiring registered voters to present photo IDs before they cast their ballots. Missouri General Assembly had tried to enact such a law.

These laws act as a barrier to some voters, they will erode our nation’s democratic principles.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sidestepped this issue at the NAACP Convention recently. Republican controlled state governments have enacted photo ID requirements for voters.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called Texas’ new photo ID requirement a thinly disguised poll tax. Poll taxes, now prohibited  by the 24th Amendment to the Constitution, were imposed by Southern states after the Civil War to discourage blacks from voting.

Holder sees a parallel between poll taxes and the new ID requirements. Only eight percent of whites lack a photo ID, but 25 percent of African Americans don’t have them, he said. This is not to consider the many Hispanic voters are without photo ID. Also, the photo ID requirement discourages voter registration.

Eleven states have passed new, Republican backed voter ID rules in the past two years. No state offers a cost-free way to get photo ID.

The Justice Department should bring suit against all 11 states blocking the use of voter ID requirements in the November 2012 elections. This issue must be resolved in the U.S. Supreme Court.

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