For the past few months, just as many states across the country are passing voter ID laws, the Wall Street Journal has steadily denied that these laws disproportionally affect minority, as well as elderly, voters. Never mind that according to New York University's Brennan Center for Justice, upwards of 5 million voters -- mainly racial minorities, students, and seniors -- would be impacted by these laws.
But the Journal, along with other conservative media, continue to champion them. In articles and editorials, the Journal has made a habit of attacking Attorney General Eric Holder and his Justice Department for blocking these laws from being implemented in several states, claiming that Holder is "scaremongering" and playing "identity politics." In yet another editorial, the Journal wrote of Holder: "It would take a distinctive kind of naivete to believe there is no voter fraud in America." It also accused DOJ's civil rights division of "massag[ing] the data" so "it can charge bias" in blocking Texas' voter ID law.
Today, the conservative paper continued the trend, alleging that Holder and President Obama are using their "political power" to scare African-American voters. According to the Journal, Holder and Obama's voting rights concerns are nothing more than "racial incitement" and part of a "strategy" to re-elect Obama, adding: "And liberals think Donald Trump's birther fantasies are offensive?" The editorial continued:
For all of Mr. Obama's attempts to portray Mitt Romney as out of touch, no one has suffered more in the Obama economy than minorities.
Which explains Mr. Holder's racial incitement strategy. If Mr. Obama is going to win those swing states again, he needs another burst of minority turnout. If hope won't get them to vote for Mr. Obama again, then how about fear?
The editorial went on to assert that a speech to black leaders at a summit of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Conference of National Black Churches about the importance of voting and the significance of new voter ID laws was Holder "using his considerable power to inflame racial antagonism":
Mr. Holder's Council of Black Churches address is merely the latest of his election-year moves that charge racial discrimination of one kind or another. These include voting-rights lawsuits to block voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina, intervention in immigration cases in Arizona, and various housing and lending discrimination suits. Whatever the legal merits of these cases, their sudden proliferation in an election year suggests a political motivation.
The courts will eventually expose much of this as meritless, but it's a shame the media won't call Mr. Holder on this strategy before the election. Imagine the uproar if a Republican AG pursued a similar strategy. It's worse than a shame that America's first black Attorney General is using his considerable power to inflame racial antagonism.
Not once did the Journal acknowledge that voter ID laws could disenfranchise minorities, students, and senior voters, as the Brennan Center has found. Indeed, under Texas' new law, "as many as 14 percent of Latinos and 24 percent of African Americans in Texas have IDs that won't qualify them to vote," stated The Nation.
But all of this means nothing apparently to the Journal, which stated that "[i]t's demeaning to have to dignify this argument with facts." It then brought up increased voter turnout of Hispanics and African-Americans in Georgia in 2008 and 2010 to make its case that voter disenfranchisement does not result from voter ID laws.
I wonder how the Journal's editorial board would rationalize this:
From a May 2008 Los Angeles Times article:
A dozen nuns and an unknown number of students were turned away from polls Tuesday in the first use of Indiana's stringent voter ID law since it was upheld last week by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The nuns, all residents of a retirement home at Saint Mary's Convent near Notre Dame University, were denied ballots by a fellow sister and poll worker because the women, in their 80s and 90s, did not have valid Indiana photo ID cards.
From an October 2011 Chattanooga Times Free Press article:
Dorothy Cooper is 96 but she can remember only one election when she's been eligible to vote but hasn't.
The retired domestic worker was born in a small North Georgia town before women had the right to vote. She began casting ballots in her 20s after moving to Chattanooga for work. She missed voting for John F. Kennedy in 1960 because a move to Nashville prevented her from registering in time.
So when she learned last month at a community meeting that under a new state law she'd need a photo ID to vote next year, she talked with a volunteer about how to get to a state Driver Service Center to get her free ID. But when she got there Monday with an envelope full of documents, a clerk denied her request.
From a May 2012 Philadelphia Inquirer editorial:
The longtime Pennsylvania voters who have joined a rights group's lawsuit against Gov. Corbett's new voter-ID mandate put a face on the fight against a law whose only apparent purpose is to serve as a weapon in a Republican-inspired assault on open and fair elections.
In presenting their cases last week, these citizens clearly demonstrated that they will have a difficult time on Nov. 6 meeting the requirement that voters produce government-issued photo identification at the polls.
Among them was one-time civil-rights marcher and wartime welder Viviette Applewhite, 93, who uses a wheelchair, lives in Philadelphia, has no driver's license, and has been unable to obtain the birth certificate required to get a state-issued ID.
Similarly, retired city schools employee Wilola Lee, 59, has been unable to get her birth certificate from Georgia, where she was born. That's the plight faced by many African Americans born in the formerly segregated South.
And there are many more. Perhaps the next time the Journal demeans itself with comparing the very real concerns of voter ID laws with "birther fantasies," it should remember Americans like Applewhite: