Holder on State Voter ID Laws: “We Call This a Poll Tax”

Attorney General Eric Holder

As conservatives threaten the voting rights of millions of Americans with new voter ID laws, Attorney General Eric Holder this week compared the laws to an unconstitutional “poll tax.” During a speech in Texas to the national NAACP Convention, Holder denounced laws passed in a number of states that now require voters to present particular forms of photo identification or be turned away from the polls. “Under proposed voter ID laws, many would struggle to pay for IDs needed to vote. We call this a poll tax,” Holder said at the convention. Some states with voter ID laws do not charge for the IDs themselves, but many citizens have to pay for the documentation required to get a voter ID. For instance, an 84-year-old Wisconsin woman named Ruthelle Frank, who has voted in every election since Truman defeated Dewey, faced a $200 fee to get a copy of her birth certificate, which she needed to get a voter ID under her state’s new law. Facing such a steep price, 2012 may be the first year Frank can’t vote. Holder and the Department of Justice have blocked some of the voter ID laws from taking effect. Both South Carolina and Texas were denied preclearance by the DOJ because their voter ID laws had a disproportionate impact against minorities, violating the Voting Rights Act. Texas is currently suing the DOJ. The federal trial began this week.
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