Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.’s objection to state laws requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls is “absolutely absurd,” Joe diGenova, the former U.S. attorney in Washington, tells Newsmax.
Last week, Holder issued a public warning that a growing number of states that have passed voter ID laws could disenfranchise minority voters. The Justice Department could go to court to try to overturn such laws.
“It is time to ask: What kind of nation and what kind of people do we want to be? 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?” Holder said in a speech at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, Texas.
The voter ID issue is polarized along party lines. Republican governors and state legislators believe such measures are necessary to prevent voters from committing fraud by voting more than once. Democrats contend the measures suppress participation by minorities who may not have a driver’s license and decline to obtain state-issued photo identification in lieu of one.
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Driver’s licenses or the equivalent are required to board an airplane, enter many private and public buildings, rent a video, cash a check, open a bank account, and often to purchase alcoholic beverages. In Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, the Supreme Court in 2008 upheld the constitutionality of Indiana’s law requiring photo identification to vote.
Still, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who chairs the Democratic National Committee, has called photo ID laws an effort to “literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally — and very transparently — block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates.”
By its very nature, voter fraud is difficult to detect. But in one illustration, a Tunica County, Miss., jury found Lessadolla Sowers, then a member of the executive committee of the county’s NAACP chapter, guilty last April of voting 10 times in the name of other people, four of whom were dead.
“This warning from the attorney general is ill-conceived, ill-timed, and I think a terrible mistake,” says diGenova, a prominent Republican commentator.
“At a time when we’re trying to do everything we can to identify who is in the country, why they are in the country, and what they are doing, it is so fundamentally simple to want to assure ourselves that the people who are voting in elections are citizens and have the right to vote,” diGenova says.
This year, a dozen states have passed laws requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Holder said the Justice Department is reviewing the new laws in South Carolina and Texas and is seeking information from those states about voters who may not have photo identification, to see whether the laws would disproportionately deter minorities from voting.
The attorney general is supposed to be above the political fray. The Justice Department displays a statue of Lady Justice, who is blindfolded, symbolizing the concept that justice is supposed to be blind to the race, gender, educational accomplishment, financial standing, or political party of those who come before her.
But, casting a political patina on the issue, Holder went so far as to characterize the drive to require photo ID as a way “to suppress certain votes in the hope of attaining electoral success.”
DiGenova says Holder has been injecting himself into the political process, raising questions about the impartiality of the Justice Department.
“The department is known historically for being above the fray and enforcing the law,” diGenova says. “I think it [Holder’s statement about law requiring photo ID] looks political, which is very bad for the attorney general particularly in light of everything that is going on around him,” diGenova notes, referring to Holder’s conflicting statements about when he knew about the Fast and Furious operation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
“It creates a patina of political interference,” diGenova says. “It makes it appear that their cases may be politically motivated.”
DiGenova says Holder is accusing states of misconduct simply because they want “to ensure that the votes that are going to occur are not going to be fraudulent.” DiGenova calls his position “absolutely absurd.”
“This is about states wanting to ensure that the people who show up at the ballot box live in the district, are American citizens, and have the right to vote and that they haven’t voted someplace else on the same day,” diGenova says.
Turning to the president, diGenova says Barack Obama conducts himself more like a talk-show host than a president. Obama’s view of the presidency is that “you give a speech, you set some parameters, and then you let the people in Congress work it all out,” diGenova says. “This is not leadership. This isn’t a president. This is a talk-show host.”
DiGenova likens Obama to Rush Limbaugh and talking heads on MSNBC and Fox News.
“The president isn’t paid to give opinions,” diGenova says. “He’s paid to lead, and what he does is he throws down a marker and then he goes and plays golf. This is not a real president; this is a Potemkin president.
"This is a president who pretends to be president, loves to give speeches, and doesn’t want to dirty his hands, and more important than anything else, doesn’t want to own anything and be responsible for it.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is a New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. His latest, "The Secrets of the FBI," has just been published. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via email. Go Here Now.
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