Voter suppression? Ha!

Voter suppression? Ha!

September 22nd, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

If you can't win an argument with facts and reason, shout louder.

That seems to be the guiding principle for opponents of voter ID laws, whose arguments keep disintegrating one by one and reducing them to incoherent rage.

The most despicable of those arguments holds that laws requiring valid photo identification at the ballot box are nothing but a ploy to suppress voting among minorities who may be less likely to possess a driver's license or other forms of acceptable ID.

The rhetoric employed to make that ludicrous assertion is scarcely measured. NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous described a voter ID law in South Carolina as "little more than a 21st century poll tax."

That would seem to suggest Jealous' limited grasp of what real voter suppression looked like several decades ago.

At any rate, as driver service centers across Tennessee gear up to open on a couple of Saturdays to help provide a valid photo ID at no cost to those who lack one and want to vote in the Nov. 6 election, fresh data indicate once again that the vote suppression claim is baloney on steroids.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution bothered to do what hasn't been done often enough since voter ID laws were enacted in a number of states: It looked at actual minority voting patterns in one such state: Georgia. Georgia's voter ID law took effect five years ago.

Encouragingly, the hysterical predictions of minority voter suppression failed to pan out -- and how.

The newspaper's analysis found that "Turnout among black and Hispanic voters increased from 2006 to 2010, dramatically outpacing population growth for those groups over the same period." From the 2006 election, before the law took effect, to the 2010 election, the black vote increased by 44 percent. It spiked in 2008 with the election of Barack Obama. But "Still, a far greater share of black voters turned out in 2010 than in 2006, showing that Obama was not the only factor driving turnout," the paper reported.

"It hasn't had the voter-suppressing effect that some people feared," Edward Foley, head of an election center at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law, told the AJC.

Added Hans von Spakovsky, a former legal counsel to the U.S. Department of Justice's civil rights division: "If you look at the numbers, they clearly show that critics of this law were wrong. Their argument has always been it would depress turnout, but it didn't happen -- quite the opposite."

That is particularly impressive in light of the fact that Georgia's law is deemed one of the strictest in the country. Georgia residents must present state-issued photo identification for in-person voting.

Today, nearly three dozen states have some form of voter ID law, indicating widespread popular support for reasonable efforts to prevent fraudulent voting. Here's hoping the rest follow suit.