Larry Elder
Photo voter ID laws, according to Attorney General Eric Holder, are a "poll tax." "Many of those without IDs," Holder recently told the NAACP, "would have to travel great distances to get them -- and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them."

Photo voter ID opponent Keesha Gaskins, senior counsel in the Brennan Center's Democracy Program, writes: "While these laws are allegedly passed to secure elections, they impact communities of color in ways only reflected in our Jim Crow past. Looking at voter ID laws alone, we know that although 11 percent of Americans lack government-issued photo ID, 25 percent of African-Americans, 16 percent of Hispanics and 18 percent of elderly voters do not have this form of ID. ... Hopefully our country will never again see the kind of internal bloodshed we saw during the Civil War -- but we are now seeing a war on voting that can only be compared to the dark, discriminatory past of the Jim Crow era."

Does the race disparate impact argument apply, for example, to the push for Washington, D.C., statehood? After all, a majority black city is likely to elect two liberal senators. What about the push to restore voting rights to convicted felons? Given that ex-felons are not likely to vote a straight Republican ticket, a cynic might say what drives the effort is the likelihood of a batch of new Democratic voters. What about amnesty for illegal aliens? Is the motive to bring "out of the shadows" millions of new Hispanic Democratic voters?

A "war on voting"?

Eleven states have voter photo ID laws, including Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, South Dakota and Kansas. Five more states may require photo voter ID by November, pending approval of their new laws by courts or the Department of Justice. And 16 states require voters to present one of several various forms of ID that do not necessarily have photos, such as a birth certificate.

Voter ID laws are popular.

Nationwide, whites, Hispanics and blacks support them. MIT and Harvard Professor Stephen Ansolabehere studies the impact of voter ID laws. Pointing to a 2006 nationwide survey of 36,500 voters, conducted under a collaborative project by 37 universities, Ansolabehere writes: "Perhaps the most surprising demographic or political comparison arose with race. And the surprise was the lack of division. Over 70 percent of whites (77 percent), Hispanics (78 percent) and blacks (70 percent) support the requirement. Black and Hispanic voters did not express measurably less support for voter identification requirements than whites."

Voter ID laws are legal.


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.