By Brendan Fischer on December 23, 2011

The U.S. Department of Justice has rejected South Carolina's voter ID law, which was inspired by an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model, as discriminatory against people of color.

Fourteen states passed restrictive voting measures over the past year, many of them (including South Carolina) using the ALEC model Voter ID Act as a template. According to a report issued this month by the NAACP, 25% of African Americans (over 6.2 million African-American voters) and 16% of Latinos (over 2.96 million Latino voters) do not possess state-issued photo IDs, and as many as 5 million Americans, many of them people of color, would be ineligible to vote under the new restrictions.

Under Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, several states with a history of discrimination require federal pre-approval for changes to "any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting." South Carolina was the first state to have its voter laws tested. The U.S. Justice Department said the law will discriminate against voters of color but did not say whether the discrimination was intentional.

Earlier this month, Attorney General Eric Holder indicated his Justice Department would uphold the Voting Rights Act. In a December 13 speech outside the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, which honors the president who helped make the landmark voting rights legislation into law, Holder said, "are we willing to allow this era – our era – to be remembered as the age when our nation's proud tradition of expanding the franchise ended?"

ALEC directed its focus on "Voter ID" shortly after the highest general election turnout in nearly 60 years in the 2008 presidential election, particularly among university students and African-Americans. Shortly after the election of the nation's first black president, "Preventing Election Fraud" was the cover story on the Inside ALEC magazine, and ALEC corporations and politicians voted in 2009 for "model" Voter ID legislation. According to the NAACP report, the 2010 census showed that communities of color -- and eligible voters within those communities -- were growing rapidly, at a faster pace than the white population.

With new majorities of ALEC politicians in many state legislatures and ALEC alums as governor following the 2010 elections, restrictive voter bills modeled on the ALEC template were introduced in a majority of states across the country in 2011. The bills became law in fourteen states and were vetoed by Democratic governors in four others.

Wisconsin was one state that passed an ALEC-inspired voter ID law, but is not subject to pre-clearance under the Voting Rights Act. Still, the Wisconsin law will have an even greater impact on people of color than the national average. According to a 2005 study, 55 percent of all African American men and 49 percent of African American women do not have state-issued ID cards, nor do 46 percent of Hispanic men and 59 percent of Hispanic women. Those numbers are even greater for younger African-Americans, with 78 percent of males and 66 percent of females between ages 18-24 not having an ID.

The Wisconsin law is being challenged as unconstitutional in two lawsuits, one from the American Civil Liberties Union and another from the NAACP and Voces de la Frontera.

Brendan Fischer

Brendan Fischer is CMD's General Counsel. He graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Comments

republicans know that they and their ideas are as dead as their party. this is a last attempt to maintain their grip on power. they know that the more people vote, the more they lose. their hope is that we can't vote. these guys are criminal corporate shills who bow to their bank masters ,in their continued desire to maintain the perpetual state of economic slavery, that they have imposed on the whole world. there are no more secrets. we are wide awake.

Requiring ID is a great way to deter voter fraud by non citizens and people who vote multiple times.

Isn't it true that a person in the USA needs an ID for just about everything? How do you bank, drive or get monthly services like utilities without an ID?

Isn't it true that a person in the USA needs an ID for just about everything?'

The question isn't what other purposes you need an ID for, the question is what need might exist to put barriers in the way of US citizens exercising their constitutional right to vote.

No such need has been shown. The claims of non-citizens trying to vote and zombies being bussed in from the cemeteries are false. Rigged voting machines, caging lists, outsourced-to-cronies voter roll purges and troves of "lost" votes turning up on clerks' laptops are greater and more realistic dangers to democracy, as the last decade has abundantly shown.

http://www.concordmonitor.com/article/306111/give-okeefe-vote-fraud-team-the-max/

Too bad those clowns didn't wear their pimp costumes.

The laws that prohibit people from registering to vote on election day suppress voter turnout more than any other means of voter suppression. I don't understand why democratic politicians support it. It conflicts massively with the right to vote.
I know the democrats got hammered in Minnesota but that was an anomaly. It really suppresses turnout of people who would vote democratic in national elections.