Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. claims Jim Crow is returning. In a recent speech, Mr. Holder said that attempts by states to pass voter identification laws will disenfranchise minorities, rolling back the clock to the evil days of segregation. He said that a growing number of minorities fear that “the same disparities, divisions and problems” now afflict America as they did in 1965 prior to the Voting Rights Act. According to the Obama administration, our democracy is being threatened by racist Republicans. Hence, the Justice Department must prevent laws requiring a photo ID to vote from being enacted.
Mr. Holder argues that voter ID laws disproportionately discriminate against poor blacks and Hispanics - citizens who cannot afford to acquire a driver’s license, passport or other form of photo identification. The latest victim is South Carolina; its voter ID law has been blocked by the Justice Department. Liberal Democrats - taking their cue from the White House - are portraying the national movement for election reform as an authoritarian assault upon civil liberties. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has even petitioned the United Nations, asking it to declare states’ voter ID laws human rights abuses. For the radical left, America has become Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
This would be comical if the consequences were not so serious. South Carolina’s legislation provides for free ID cards to be given to anyone who needs it. Not one person - white, black or brown - is discriminated against or discouraged from casting a vote at the ballot box. Moreover, the Supreme Court already has ruled on the issue - upholding state voter ID laws. In the 2008 Crawford v. Marion County Election Board decision, the high court held that an Indiana law mandating photo identification at the voting booth was indeed constitutional. If it is good enough for the Supreme Court and the overwhelming majority of the states, then it should be for Mr. Holder as well.
It isn’t. And the reason is simple: The administration is trying to whip up minority frenzy, propagating the myth of widespread ballot suppression. The goal is to foster a sense of racial persecution of blacks, intending to maximize voter turnout in November. The results, however, will be to poison race relations further. Mr. Holder is cynically playing the race card in order to achieve President Obama’s overriding ambition: re-election.
Racism has nothing to do with states implementing voter ID laws. Rather, it is about protecting the integrity of our electoral system. Voter fraud is rampant; abuses regularly take place. In Chicago, local elections are often marred by ballot stuffing and multiple voting - including by false voters who use the names of deceased individuals. Indiana election officials have found that, during the 2008 Democratic primary, countless pro-Barack Obama and pro-Hillary Rodham Clinton signatures were falsified. In Minnesota, voter fraud enabled Democrat Al Franken to steal the election from incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman. It is precisely to preserve the fundamental basis of our democracy - one person, one vote - that voter ID laws are necessary.
Mr. Holder evidently wants to scuttle ID laws because he knows which organization will be hurt most: ACORN. For years, community activist groups, such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, have engaged in massive electoral fraud - registering illegal aliens, offering bribes to numerous politically disinterested people in the inner cities as inducements to vote and pushing underage and multiple voting. Election reform, therefore, is a stake aimed at the heart of Democratic corruption and ACORN’s power. Clean up the voter rolls and Mr. Obama’s re-election is in serious jeopardy.
It is perverse to have a society that requires a photo ID to go through airport security, drive a car, purchase expensive consumer goods using Mastercard or Visa (as happened to me recently when I bought a stack of DVDs and the cashier asked for my driver’s license to check against credit card theft) or get a simple library card, but not to cast a ballot - the most sacred act of citizenship in a deliberative democracy.
Mr. Holder is a shameless demagogue. He has become the Democratic Party’s new Al Sharpton: Everything is seen through the lens of race. He has refused to prosecute members of the New Black Panther Party, who in the 2008 election stood at a polling booth wielding clubs in a blatant attempt at voter intimidation. Career Justice Department lawyers admitted that Mr. Holder’s policy is not to go after black perpetrators whose victims are white. He insists that Republican criticism leveled at him over Operation Fast and Furious is because of his race - not the obvious fact that, under his watch, thousands of guns were illegally smuggled into Mexico, resulting in hundreds of deaths including a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
Mr. Holder says his department’s aim is to “expand the franchise.” This begs the question: Expand it for whom? Jim Crow is long dead; not one single eligible voter has been turned away because of an ID requirement. In other words, minorities are not being disenfranchised. What Mr. Holder really means is to expand the vote to groups that will help ensure a Democratic victory in 2012 - ACORN and its nefarious allies.
Stealing an election is not beyond this administration. After all, it’s the Chicago Way.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute.