Democrats Equate Voter ID Laws to ‘Poll Tax,’ ‘Jim Crow’ Laws

Matt Cover | November 14, 2011 | 6:33pm EST
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( – House Democrats, including Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.),  said that voter ID laws were equivalent to poll taxes and Jim Crow laws, arguing that they were deliberate attempts to keep minorities from voting.

“We know [that] voter suppression has been taking place, is being taken place, and is planned,” Hoyer said, at a congressional forum on the negative impacts of voter ID laws on Monday.

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“A poll tax, by another name, would smell as vile,” Hoyer said.

Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) said that voter ID laws were “reminiscent” of racist Jim Crow laws that were enacted to keep blacks from voting.

“Given the disproportionate impact the voter suppression laws will have on African American voters, these laws are reminiscent of the poll taxes used in the Jim Crow South,” Rep. Cleaver said.

Cleaver further said that the recent proliferation of voter ID laws was “turning back the clock” on race relations and discrimination.

“This is turning back the clock, reawakening ugly periods in our country’s history where discrimination was commonplace, and the right to vote was only given to a select few,” he said.

Many states have introduced or enacted voter identification laws, which mandate that voters show photo ID prior to voting. Other states have moved to restrict early voting or to require tougher certification for voters registered by activist groups.

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said that these efforts amounted to discrimination “by design,” adding that states that had tried to strengthen the integrity of their elections were actively trying to keep minorities and the elderly from voting.

“There is a concerted effort across this country to limit, to suppress, and to undo our right to vote,” Fudge said. “It is deliberate and it is by design.”

Voter ID laws, Fudge said, were a new kind of poll tax, designed to keep minorities and the poor from voting.

“What we called the poll tax 50 years ago is now having to buy a voter ID card today,” Fudge said.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)

New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) made the most inflammatory attack on Voter ID laws, charging that they were a conspiracy perpetrated by billionaires, the GOP, and the conservative group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that connects state and local legislators with conservative policies and ideas.

“This is an organized, concerted, deliberate effort to disenfranchise millions of voters,” Nadler said. “We know what’s going on, it’s fomented by billionaires, it’s fomented by the Republican Party leadership, it’s fomented by ALEC, which is another way to say the first two things.”

“The question is, how to beat this conspiracy,” Nadler said.

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