David Norcross

Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) may have admitted that "Jim Crow was the wrong analogy to use" for photo voter ID laws, but that didn’t stop Bill Clinton from making similar comments just one month later. Clinton made the outrageous statement that “There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today.”

Clinton continued to incite young listeners at a Washington conference this July by deriding what he called the “disciplined, passionate, determined effort of Republican governors and legislators to keep most of you from voting next time."

Yes, photo voter ID laws have passed in Indiana, Georgia, Kansas, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas with Republican support, but the “passionate, determined effort” is coming from Democrats against such laws. Democratic governors in Minnesota, Montana, Missouri and North Carolina vetoed photo voter ID legislation passed by their state legislatures.

Sixteen Democratic Senators including Majority Leader Harry Reid sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting that the Department of Justice investigate whether state voter ID legislation violates civil rights laws.

Democrats are trying to paint a picture of photo voter ID as a solely Republican measure aimed at keeping minorities, the elderly, the poor and college students from voting. But that’s simply not the case.

The Democratic controlled legislature of Rhode Island just recently passed a photo voter ID bill. Sponsor Harold Metts (D - District 6, Providence) said, “As a minority citizen and a senior citizen I would not support anything that I thought would present obstacles or limit protections.” Governor Lincoln Chafee said that it was actually minority communities who expressed concerns about voter fraud along with their support for photo voter ID.

Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso), a Democratic member of the Texas legislature who vote for their photo voter ID bill said, "If I really, truly thought that this would disenfranchise somebody, I would've voted against it."

Clinton should heed the recommendations of former Democratic president’s book, instead of Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Former President Jimmy Carter joined former Secretary of State James A. Baker III in support of photo voter ID when they co-chaired the Commission on Federal Election Reform.

But Clinton does not want to look to past residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for advice, check out what those who live on Main Street overwhelming support? 75% of the American people support photo voter ID laws according to a June 2011 Rasmussen poll. The more disturbing fact is that Clinton, Wasserman Schultz, Reid and others are out of touch with their own Democratic voters, 63% of which support photo voter ID.

Statistical evidence does not back up the claims that photo voter ID laws hurt minority groups. Jeffrey Milyo of the University of Missouri published a study that found that Indiana’s photo voter ID law had no effect on voter turnout in counties with higher concentrations of minority, poor, elderly or less educated voters. He found that voter turnout actually increased in counties with Democratic majorities.

Democrats in the nation’s capital should abandon the explosive rhetoric about disenfranchisement and follow the lead of Representative Pickett, Senator Metts and the Rhode Island legislature. They have all recognized that voter ID is about keeping elections open, fair and honest.


David Norcross

David A. Norcross is chairman of the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA).