Recently Attorney General Eric Holder spoke before the Congressional Black Caucus about all of the work that still needs to be done in civil rights enforcement. He quickly came to the fact that the Justice Department had recently not allowed approval of changes to voting laws in Texas and South Carolina. Specifically the Justice Department has stopped changes to each state’s laws that would require picture ID’s in order to vote. He proceeded to make his case for the idea that these laws are discriminatory in their nature due to the unfair burden that the laws put on minorities. What he did not say is that these laws simply equalize the treatment of all citizens in regards to proof of identity for voting.
Despite his law enforcement job description, the Attorney General is not beyond acting based on politics. If there are, in fact, valid reasons for being against these types of laws, we must put aside those fears. Mr. Holder spoke about both laws. In regards to the Texas law he said, “the law would have a disproportionate impact on Hispanic voters.” On the South Carolina law he said “The proposed change would place an unfair burden on minorities”. As further proof of the problem he referenced the South Carolina data that showed more minorities will have to obtain picture ID’s than their proportion of the population.
http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/FaithLe (about 15 minutes in)
If there are a disproportionate amount of minorities who don’t have a picture ID, of course laws like this will affect them more. Does that make the law an attack on civil rights? These laws do not ask more of these minorities, just that they come up to the same level of proof of identification as the rest of society. His protest of these laws is like complaining that a job that requires a high school diploma is discriminatory because there are more minorities without a diploma. “Unfair burden” does not seem like an appropriate phrase to describe the impact on minorities.
Laws like this should actually help those who are legal members of society in additional areas. There are many facets of day to day life that a picture ID makes simpler. It is easier to get prescription drugs, travel, or even get a job with a picture ID. It is rather ironic that the very people who the Attorney General is purporting to help, may actually be kept from an opportunity to fully participate in society. Laws similar to this have been passed in Indiana and Georgia, and it has been reported that minority participation in voting has increased since their passage.
Given the fact that the laws in question do not ask more of minorities but simply require equal proof of identification as the rest of the citizens, we are left to determine the true nature of the protest to these laws. Many people believe that the real resistance that the Democratic Party has to picture ID’s for voters is due to the idea that they want illegal aliens to have the ability to vote. It is generally thought that these voters are likely to vote for Democrats. There is no doubt that laws like these make it more difficult for illegal aliens to vote. One can draw their own conclusion, but when the chief law enforcement officer in the country puts forward an argument that doesn’t pass the smell test we should all keep sniffing.