Eric Holder Calls Texas Voter ID Law a ‘Poll Tax’

Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday he disapproves a new photo ID law in Texas because it would be ‘harmful to minority voters’.

Attorney general also compared the new law to the situation in some Southern states after slavery’s abolition to disenfranchise black people known as a “poll taxes.” Photo: David Valdez/Flickr

“Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them,” Holder said in a speech to the NAACP on Tuesday.

“Especially in recent months, Texas has – in many ways – been at the center of our national debate about voting rights issues,” attorney general said. “Let me be clear:  we will not allow political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right.”

“We call those poll taxes,” Holder added, moving away from the original text of his speech with a reference to a fee used in the post-slavery efforts to forbid for blacks voting.

His announcement came a day after the Supreme Court dealt with a suit over the 2011 law passed by Texas’ GOP-dominated Legislature that requires voters to show photo identification to vote.

Citing Texas’ legislation, Holder noted, a concealed handgun license would be acceptable ID to vote, wile a student ID would not.

Statistics show that only 8 percent of white people do not have government-issued photo IDs, when compared to 25 percent of black people who lack such identification.

“I don’t know what will happen as this case moves forward, but I can assure you that the Justice Department’s efforts to uphold and enforce voting rights will remain aggressive,” the attorney general said.

As The Huffington Post reports, attorney general mentioned the arc of American history has always moved toward expanding the electorate and that “we will simply not allow this era to be the beginning of the reversal of that historic progress.”

“I will not allow that to happen,” he promised. The announcement came a few lays after Pennsylvania officials released new data that claim as many as 750,000 voters in the state could be impacted by a new voter ID law.

Comparing voter registration rolls with transportation department ID databases, it was estimated that more than 758,000 registered voters in the state don’t have driver’s license, the most common form of photo ID in the state.

The new law also allows another other forms of identification, such as U.S. passports, student ID cards with expiration dates and military ID. Because of that, state officials have shown little concern over the latest numbers.

“This thorough comparison of databases confirms that most Pennsylvanians have acceptable photo ID for voting this November,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele said in a news release.

“This comparison takes into account only voters with PennDot IDs, and does not include voters who may have any of the other various acceptable forms of ID.”

However, the Pennsylvania Department of State assures that the voter ID law was elaborated to deter people from voting illegally.

“We are committed to helping any eligible voter who does not have an acceptable ID get one to be able to vote in November,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele said in a news release.

“We are continuing our outreach to get the word to voters about this law. The goal of this law is to allow every legal voter to cast a ballot, but detect and deter anyone attempting to vote illegally.”

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