Alabama is once again at odds with the U.S. Department of Justice … this time over the voter ID law that the Alabama State Legislature passed during the 2011 legislative session.
Alabama joined six other states, including South Carolina, in passing a law that requires voters to present some form of picture ID such as a driver’s license before they will be allowed to vote. Similar laws passed by Georgia and Indiana have already been upheld in federal court. Even though Alabama’s new law makes exceptions for the very few people who do not have a photo ID, that may not be enough to prevent the U.S. Justice Department from filing suit.
Advocates argue that photo IDs are required to cash a check, board a plane, enter your child’s school, and so many other things that it is now an accepted part of our lives and should also apply to protecting the integrity of our elections. Yet, the civil rights groups assailing these requirements related to voting are conspicuously silent when the very same requirements are mandated for cashing a check, boarding a plane or volunteering in a school.
Nonetheless, liberal activists and civil rights groups, including the ACLU and the NAACP, have asked the Justice Department to block voter ID laws. They claim the laws are racially motivated to suppress turnout among blacks and other minorities. The Justice Department has already blocked the South Carolina voter ID law claiming that the law, which requires a valid photo ID, will keep tens of thousands of minorities from voting.
Data from that state suggest this is an exaggeration. According to the Associated Press, the South Carolina Election Commission had reported that 240,000 active and inactive voters lacked driver’s licenses or other valid ID cards. However, Kevin Shwedo, the executive director of the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), said that the state Election Commission knew the data it presented was inaccurate. Shwedo sent the state’s attorney general an analysis showing that 207,000 of the voters listed as a lacking driver’s license moved to another state, died, allowed their license to expire or the name in the voter file simply did not match the name on the driver’s license.
Shwedo told the attorney general that the Commission created “artificially high numbers to excite the masses.” The Election Commission later announced that it would purge nearly 60,000 names of deceased voters and individuals whose names did not match state DMV records.
Hans von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Elections Commission, pointed out that the Justice Department claims that 8.4 percent of registered voters in South Carolina who do not have a photo ID are white and 10 percent are black. Blacks make up only 28 percent of South Carolina’s total population so, in terms of real numbers, more whites would be affected by the voter ID law than blacks yet the Justice Department has blocked the law claiming it discriminates against black voters.
South Carolina, Alabama and other southern states have a despicable history of racial injustice, including laws that disenfranchised blacks and poor whites. These and other states also have a despicable history of election fraud that also disenfranchises voters, particularly black voters.
In an article he wrote for the Montgomery Advertiser in October 2011, former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis wrote, “I’ve changed my mind on voter ID laws—I think Alabama did the right thing in passing one—and I wish I had gotten it right when I was in political office.”
Davis said, “The truth is that the most aggressive contemporary voter suppression in the African American community, at least in Alabama, is the wholesale manufacture of ballots, at the polls and absentee, in parts of the Black Belt.” He added, “Voting the names of the dead, and the nonexistent, and the too-mentally-impaired to function, cancels out the votes of citizens who are exercising their rights—that is suppression by any light.” What Davis was saying is this: the old entrenched interests maintain their power by stealing elections through voter fraud and thus suppressing other reform-minded black voters, particularly in Democrat primaries.
Despite opposition from various liberal activists groups and some entrenched politicians and power brokers, a required photo ID will not deny anyone the right to vote. However, as Artur Davis pointed out, it will help ensure that every person’s right to an honest election is protected.