Friday, November 18, 2005

Block the Vote

Earlier this year, Georgia's Republicans pushed through a new "voter identification law" that required every voter to present a valid form of state identification at the polls. When people pointed out that not everyone had a driver's license, especially the poor, the elderly, and urban minority populations -- you know, the core of the Republican voting base -- these same Republicans pushed through a law that required such voters to go out and pay for a state ID card solely for the privilege of voting.

All this was necessary, the Republicans insisted, to prevent a rampant wave of voter fraud. Sure, there was no evidence this had happened and none that it might in the future, but these brave politicians went ahead and screwed over the poor, the elderly and inner-city blacks all the same. They insisted it had nothing to do with race, and got indignant that people would make such a claim.

Well, guess what?
The chief sponsor of Georgia's voter identification law told the Justice Department that if black people in her district "are not paid to vote, they don't go to the polls," and that if fewer blacks vote as a result of the new law, it is only because it would end such voting fraud.

The newly released Justice Department memo quoting state Rep. Sue Burmeister (R-Augusta) was prepared by department lawyers as the federal government considered whether to approve the new law. .... The memo, leaked to The Washington Post, went on to state: "Rep. Burmeister said that if there are fewer black voters because of this bill, it will only be because there is less opportunity for fraud. She said that when black voters in her black precincts are not paid to vote, they do not go to the polls." [...]

The memo also states that in defending the Georgia law, Burmeister claimed the voter IDs would not be as difficult to obtain as critics claim because Gov. Sonny Perdue "had passed legislation to mandate a [state Department of Driver Services] office in every county and that individuals can obtain state IDs in Kroger grocery stores."

"Neither statement is correct," the memo concludes.

Perdue spokeswoman Heather Hedrick said Thursday that memo's claims that the voter ID law would adversely affect minority voting doesn't change the governor's support for the measure.

"This is common-sense legislation," Hedrick said. "Under the old rules, an illegal alien could pick up a library card out of the trash and use it to cast a ballot. Voting is a sacred right and it deserves safeguards to prevent fraud."
Yeah, that's the top priority for an illegal alien. Making sure his vote is counted in the race for city property assessor. Moron.

I can't say I'm surprised by all this. Georgia's Republican party has a nice history of toying with the racist past, from Sonny Perdue riding the Confederate battle flag to the GOP's first gubernatorial win since Reconstruction to the less obvious efforts made by suburban Republicans like Newt Gingrich and Bob Barr to convince their constituents that the evil blacks were taking control of their world. But not since the days of segregation has anyone been as open about their racism. Way to go, Rep. Burmeister.

What's really the outrage here, though, is that Burmeister's racial arguments were reviewed by the Bush Department of Justice prior to the law's approval. They also had a team of Justice lawyers and analysts review the law, and they recommended rejecting it because it was likely to discriminate against minority voters. Despite all this evidence, however, the Bush administration overrode their recommendations and approved the new voting restrictions.

I guess this is the harsh bigotry of low expectations.

(Hat tip to the Carpetbagger Report.)

3 comments:

Smitty said...

This is part of their all-or-nothing vote-grabbing tactic. It is par for the course that they'd use racist overtones (not undertones in this case...) to secure a controversial vote-grab in the South.

About 6 years ago in Michigan, there was a big race in the Lansing area for the 8th Congressional District between Mike Rogers, the Republican who won and is still there, and Dianne Byrum, the Dem.

Shortly before the election, a bill was passed that would require the address on your license or i.d. to be the same as where you are registered to vote. Sounds plenty innocent on the surface, right?

Well, 9 months out of the year, Lansing's population is increased by some 60,000 people because of MSU. Traditionally, students at MSU voted in Lansing because the majority of their time was spent here (not to mention, the average MSU student who votes was found to vote Dem). But because of this law, they either had to get a new i.d. issued every time they came to Lansing, or make Lansing their permanent address, or just go home to vote.

Rogers won. Hmmm...

Dianne put up a good fight, just for history's ske. They held HUGE get-out-the-vote drives to get students registered here. It almost worked.

Otto Man said...

That's a fairly typical tactic, Smitty, and a good one to raise. We often complain about the poor turnout of 18-22 year old voters, but it's important to remember that a lot of localities treat them like migrant workers.

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