Countering the Attack on Voter ID Laws

Monday, 22 Oct 2012 09:59 AM

By James Walsh

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Civil and ethnic rights organizations, with the support of the Obama administration, are intent on disrupting voting this November.
 
Their modus operandi is widespread filing of lawsuits that attack state voter identification laws. These lawsuits have been filed in a number of states under the guise of protecting minorities, the poor, and the elderly.
 
When state laws protecting the sanctity of the voting system are weakened or overturned, then voting anarchy results. For example, radical groups are seeking to overturn state laws that prevent non-citizens from voting. Although the Constitution leaves it to the states to determine qualifications for state voting, a federal law passed in 1996 makes it a crime for non-citizens to vote in federal elections (Title 18 USC section 611).
 
The current move to give non-citizens the right to vote in state and federal elections reflects the failure of the nation to enforce existing immigration laws. Immigration anarchy and non-citizen voting result from the lawlessness that follows when a nation abdicates control of its borders.
 
The Washington Post, on September 23, 2012, headlined a story, “Laws may cut Latino Voting — Rules could deter 10 million — Backers deny racism, say fraud is target.” The newspaper based its story on a report by the Advancement Project (Ad.P), whose website slogan reads, “We are all immigrants.” The group, founded in 1999 to forge a broad national immigrant rights movement, consists of aging leftist lawyers and social justice ingénues.
 
The Ad.P report decries the potential impact of newly restrictive photo identification laws, proof-of-citizenship requirements, and efforts by states to remove non-citizens from voter rolls. The group’s concern that non-citizens might be prohibited from voting is based on the misinformed belief that non-citizens have the right to vote in U.S. elections.
 
Back in 2009, when the Democrats held the White House and majorities in both chambers of Congress — the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, President Obama could have passed an immigration reform bill but chose not to. In 2012, the president again promised Hispanics that, in his second term, he would push for immigration reform legislation.
 
Recently, when reporters on the Hispanic TV network Univision, surprised Obama with hard questions regarding his tenure as president, he dodged the questions with vacuous responses. Not surprisingly, he proceeded to blame Republicans for his failures in immigration reform. It was obvious, however, that the reporters and audience did not buy his excuses.
 
Because of Obama’s failures on immigration reform, including voter protection, many states took up the gauntlet to protect the right of citizens to vote. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) lists 33 states with voter identification (ID) laws as well as those state legislatures that are strengthening their voter ID laws.
 
When it comes to voter ID, not all states are equal. According to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as part of the Democrats’ War on Poverty, certain counties and cities across the United States must receive “pre-clearance” from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) before enacting voting requirements.
 
A number of states are contesting the demands of the Obama Justice Department with regard to voter ID legislation. On voter ID, all states should be equal.
 
In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter ID law. Justice John Paul Stevens, considered a liberal, wrote for the majority that the risk of voter fraud was real, even if no cases of voter fraud were established and that each state has the obligation to assure that only the votes of eligible voters are counted. Obama has chosen to ignore this decision.
 
In 2011, Rhode Island, which has a Democrat-controlled state Senate and House, passed a voter ID law. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) chose not to file an objection to the law, thus disregarding claims by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People(NAACP), and other leftist groups that it was discriminatory to minorities, the poor, and the elderly.
 
To date, courts have found that states challenged on their voter protection laws have valid, constitutional grounds. Some laws, however, have been overturned because of short notice times. For example, on Oct. 2, 2012, in Pennsylvania, where 59 percent of registered voters favor the requirement of photo IDs to vote, a state judge ruled that the state’s voter ID law was void for the 2012 election but would be valid thereafter.
 
The voter ID law is either valid or it is not. Might politics have played a role in this "Alice in Wonderland" decision?
 
Voter ID laws are necessary to protect legitimate voting from voter fraud, such as the temporary movement of non-citizens from a “safe” state to a neighboring “swing” state to vote. Flagrant disregard of voter ID requirements has the potential to become a political flashpoint.

The nation depends on strong states that, empowered by the Constitution, pass and enforce voter ID requirements.
 
James H. Walsh was associate general counsel with the U.S. Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1983 to 1994. Read more reports from James Walsh — Click Here Now.
 



 
 

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