Voter-ID Laws: Life in the Margins

Though GOP lawmakers swear their interest is in combating voting fraud with new identification laws, it's hard not to feel that their true intent is to suppress the black vote, writes Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.

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Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. weighs in on new voter-identification laws that are being propelled by GOP lawmakers in states across the nation. He says that while lawmakers claim differently, it is difficult not to feel that their true intent is to suppress the black vote.

As similar voter ID laws are passed in other Republican-controlled states -- including those that are not covered by the Voting Rights Act -- it would be naïve to believe politics does not also enter the GOP’s thinking. Though lawmakers swear their only interest is to combat voting fraud (which is not known to be a rampant problem), it is difficult not to feel their true intent is to suppress the black vote.

Granted, race is nowhere mentioned in the voter ID bills. It was not mentioned in bills imposing grandfather clauses, poll taxes and literacy tests either. All were officially race-neutral, yet the intention and effect was to bar blacks from voting.

As Richard Nixon once said of his War on Drugs, another “race-neutral” policy that somehow victimizes mostly blacks, the idea is to target African Americans while appearing not to.

The Justice Department was right to block this law [in South Carolina], but it is nonetheless hard not to feel a certain pox-on-all-their-houses cynicism as people who live on the margins are both targeted -- and defended -- for political reasons, but otherwise go unremarked and unrecalled…

Read Leonard Pitts Jr.'s entire column at the Miami Herald.

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