Brown Opposes VoterID Law

Robert Brown,the Senate Minority Leader, is asking the federal government to block Georgia’s Voter ID law.

State Sen. Robert Brown is urging the U.S. Justice Department not to approve a new law that would require voters to show a photo ID at the polls.
In a letter to a top federal official, Brown, D-Macon, said the law “would transform Georgia’s election laws into the most restrictive in the nation,” and place undue burdens on elderly, poor and black citizens.

“My objections to voter identification provisions are grounded in decades of history and legal precedent, as well as striking contemporary evidence,” Brown wrote in the letter addressed to R. Alexander Acosta, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department.

The trouble for Brown is that he is wrong. Louisiana has an equally, if not more restrictive VoterID bill. Also, the bill does not create a poll tax. Brown, who I consider a notorious race baiter, enjoys throwing the race card at Republicans. It seems to me that were Brown to have his way, we’ll see the Georgia Democrats return to their race rhetoric of the past going so far as to say Republicans want to burn down black families’ homes and put them back in chains.

Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, sponsored that portion of the bill. He said it’s a needed antidote to voter fraud, and he said Brown and others who object to the bill are falsely characterizing it.

“I continue to be amazed at the amount of misinformation that is being promulgated about this bill,” Staton said. “I’m just shocked at how this is being politicized. I think my Democratic colleagues are using this as a means to, frankly, stir up their base.”

He pointed out that the bill requires the state to issue free ID cards to voters who need them.

But Brown said many rural voters must travel across county lines to get a card, because there are only 50 state offices to issue identification cards for Georgia’s 159 counties.

It seems to me that Brown is admitting or suggesting that lots of Georgia voters break the law. If it is such a burden to get a Driver’s License, does it mean that many Georgia voters who drive do not actually have a driver’s license? Also, several studies have shown that the rhetoric Brown is using is vastly overstated and that, in fact, there are more people registered to vote with drivers licenses than people who are not registered to vote who have drivers licenses.

Most likely, pretty much everyone who votes does have identification.

In fact, this is an issue that can help Republicans, if used in the right way. We all now have to have identification to get into a lot of federal buildings. So, why should it be easier to vote — a right we certainly don’t want abused.

Brown’s notion is silly and outdated. His rhetoric is racial prejudice and outmoded.

Full Disclosure: I helped write one of the first drafts of the Voter ID bill.

[UPDATE] As Mike Krempasky points out, the person to whom Brown wrote no longer works at the DOJ and hasn’t for a while. Bawhahaha.

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Erick Erickson

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  • From the article you link to:

    “According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, seven states, including Georgia, now request photo ID from voters. However, the other states allow a person to vote without a photo ID after he or she makes an affidavit or provides other required information.”

    Your law is going to turn away legitimate voters from the polls.

    Does that bother you at all?

  • No, that does not bother me at all. If the Secretary of State does her job properly, voters will be on notice that they must come with photographic identification.

    Likewise, most voters who do not drive themselves are driven by a voter van hired by a campaign. There is no reason why the organizers of these voter vans cannot remind the voters to bring their photo identification.

  • I just don’t understand the cost/benefit aspect of this law.

    GA voters already have to show an ID to vote. Making it a requirement to show a photo ID isn’t going to affect the occurances of voter fraud.

    The cost of this law (turning away legitimate voters) is not worth the benefit of it; mainly because there isn’t any benefit to this law.

  • the cost of the law includes, to quote
    “If the Secretary of State does her job properly, voters will be on notice that they must come with photographic identification.”

    and to quote to writes to the AJC today:
    “The right to vote, and the ability to freely exercise that right, are the hallmark of a democracy.

    As Cynthia Tucker points out, the move to require state-issued voter IDs will effectively limit voting and deny some citizens their voting rights. This will benefit Republicans and is clearly an abuse of power.

    In Georgia, citizens are not treated equally. There is no level playing field in this political game, and minorities, the weak and the poor are once more denied their right to have their opinions counted.”

    TOM McMANUS, Roswell

    “The voter ID law requires anyone who has never had a Georgia ID or driver’s license to produce an original birth certificate or a certified one with the seal affixed. Since many Georgians are from other states, they will have to research where to obtain their certificates from their home states.

    My non-driving mom from Michigan has no state ID. She has voted with her employee ID and, later, with her nursing home ID. Now she will have to find out where she can obtain her birth certificate in Michigan and mail her documents and $12 to that office. Then she will have to wait two to three weeks for her birth certificate, and then go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and wait for hours to produce more documents to get her state ID — for which she must pay $10 or lose her dignity by professing destitution and getting a free card.

    Some will say that if folks really want to vote, they should not complain about having to go through this process. But why should they have to, when we recently celebrated democracy in Iraq, where citizens simply stuck their fingers in ink to vote?”

    ELLE ANDERSON, Conyers