A while back, we at RedState were shocked to learn that two-thirds of states have zero identification requirements, except for HAVA requirements, and the others were, at best, very loose. After months of handwringing over what to do about voter fraud, we came up with a suggestion as a first step: require photo identification at the polls. It’s simple and it’s common sense.
So, we suggested the idea down in Georgia. Senator Cecil P. Staton, Jr. picked up the ball. Despite personal attacks on his integrity, Senator Senate submitted S.B. 84 to require the use of a government issued photo id to vote at polling locations. Georgia State Representative Sue Bermeister submitted H.B. 244 on the House side that included Voter ID legislation as part of broader election reforms. S.B. 84 was rolled into H.B. 244 and, despite black legislators storming out of the General Assembly and me getting called a “racist” in the Senate, along with attacks on Bermeister and Staton, the bill passed. The Governor signed it.
Then the real fight happened. Jesse Jackson came. Letters and petitions were filed with the Justice Department demanding the bill be rejected for racism and discrimination against minorities and the elderly, and obnoxious editorials appeared in national newspapers saying that Georgia Republicans wanted the reinstitution of Jim Crow.
When liberals have facts, which is rare, they do argue them. In cases like this, where the law is not on their side, they resort to yelling and hyperbole. Undeterred, the United States Justice Department has precleared Georgia new election law.
A law requiring Georgians to show government-issued photo identification in order to vote was approved by the U.S. Justice Department on Friday as opponents immediately vowed a legal challenge.
House Bill 244, which created one of the most restrictive voter identification laws in the nation, was among the most fiercely debated measures of the 2005 state legislative session.
Republican leaders said the requirement was necessary to prevent voter fraud and ensure the integrity of the ballot. But the act prompted an outcry from Democrats, who argued it would disenfranchise thousands of poor, elderly and minority voters who do not have a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.
African-American legislators were particularly incensed. They compared the bill to poll taxes, literacy tests and other tactics used to prevent black people from voting in the South in years past.
Some black lawmakers stormed out of the General Assembly during votes on the bill. Others angrily or tearfully spoke of painful memories and racial divisions stirred up by it.
The Justice Department reviewed the law to ensure compliance with the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which protects minority access to the polls. Georgia is among 16 states subject to the act because of a history of discrimination.
“The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division found that the new identification requirements had no negative purpose or effect, nor is there any evidence, for that matter, that the voter ID requirements have a negative effect on the turnout of any voters,” said Brian Roehrkasse, spokesman for the Justice Department.