This week the Department of Justice approved a new Virginia voter ID law that makes it an absolute requirement for citizens to show an approved form of identification before voting. Prior state law allowed voters without ID to sign an affidavit at the polls swearing their identity.
Virginia had sought preclearance of the law pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires that several listed jurisdictions have any voting changes approved by either the Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
In order to obtain preclearance under Section 5, DOJ must find that the proposed voting change “does not have the purpose and will not have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color.” In other words, the Justice Department must agree that the voting law is non-discriminatory.
To formally rule that Virginia’s voter ID law is not discriminatory is quite a turn-around for Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department.
Just last month Holder compared voter ID laws to post-slavery poll taxes while speaking to attendees of the annual NAACP convention. Perhaps now is the time to acknowledge that his incendiary comparison was over-the-top?
Of course, Holder isn’t alone in his frenzied assertions about voter ID laws. Prominent liberals, including DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, have dramatically declared that voter ID requirements are nothing less than a ploy by Republicans to return to the “Jim Crow” era.
Unfortunately for race-baiters, Virginia isn’t the only state where voter ID critics have recently had to swallow their words.
A judge in Pennsylvania declined to halt the enforcement of that state’s controversial voter ID law finding that “the photo ID requirement. . . is a reasonable, non-discriminatory, non-severe burden when viewed in the widespread use of photo ID in daily life.” As precedence for his ruling, the judge cited the 2008 Supreme Court decision Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, which upheld the constitutionality of an Indiana voter ID law by a 6-3 decision.
When seventy-four percent of Americans support voter ID laws, the Supreme Court upholds voter ID’s constitutionality, and the Obama Justice Department confirms that a new voter ID rule is non-discriminatory, there aren’t many viable arguments against voter ID left.
Then again, maybe Eric Holder’s Justice Department is also racist…