Is It Really “Racist” to Insist on Voter Id?

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The following is an excerpt from a letter written by The Lincoln Institute regarding Voter ID laws. The Lincoln Institute is a Research and Education organization founded in 1978 to study public policy issues that impact the lives of black America.

“Artur Davis, who served in Congress from 2003 to 2011, and was an active member of the Congressional Black Caucus, once vigorously opposed voter ID laws. Now, he has changed his mind. Davis says that Alabama “did the right thing” in passing a voter ID and admits, “I wish I had gotten it right when I was in political office.”

As a congressman, he says, he “took the path of least resistance,” opposing voter ID laws without any evidence to justify his position. He simply “lapsed into the rhetoric of various partisans and activists who contend that requiring photo identification to vote is a suppression tactic aimed at thwarting black voter participation.”

Today, Davis recognizes that the “most aggressive” voter suppression in the black community “is the wholesale manufacture of ballots at the polls” in some predominantly black districts.

In Davis’s view, voter ID is “unlikely to impede a single good-faith voter — and that only gives voting the same elements of security as writing a check at the store, or maintaining a library card. The case for voter ID is a good one, and it ought to make politics a little cleaner and the process of conducting elections much fairer.”

Photo IDs are required to drive a car, cash a check, collect government assistance and fly on a plane — among other things. No one suggests that the need for photo IDs during such transactions are “racist.” To ask voters to properly identify themselves seems to be simply common sense.

Robert Knight, a senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union, notes that, “Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution leaves voting procedures largely to the states. The Voting Rights Act requires stricter scrutiny of some states, but the case for voter suppression has yet to be made.”

What is motivating the Obama administration to embark upon a crusade against voters identifying who they are before casting their ballots, is less than clear. If they think they are somehow fighting “racism,” they are clearly on the wrong track.”