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Rep. John Lewis Distorts Truth About Voter ID Laws

JohnLewisRep. John Lewis (D-GA) had an op-ed in the New York Times on Friday in which he condemns the move in a number of states to require photo identification be presented when voting, calling it an unconstitutional poll tax.  Rep. Lewis tries to make his case by conveniently omitting some crucial facts and getting others completely wrong. 

“Despite decades of progress, this year’s Republican-backed wave of voting restrictions has demonstrated that the fundamental right to vote is still subject to partisan manipulation. The most common new requirement, that citizens obtain and display unexpired government-issued photo identification before entering the voting booth, was advanced in 35 states and passed by Republican legislatures in Alabama, Minnesota, Missouri and nine other states despite the fact that as many as 25 percent of African-Americans lack acceptable identification.”

Let’s take the states he mentioned one at a time and see what the truth is.

Alabama – A bill passed this year would require voters to use an Alabama-issued driver’s license or non-driver ID, other photo IDs issued by the state or federal government, a U.S. passport, a student or employee photo ID issued by an Alabama college, or a tribal ID.   The bill also requires the Secretary of State to provide free photo IDs people who don’t have one.  Secretary of State Beth Chapman has said she plans to make them available at every county courthouse.

Minnesota – Similar to Alabama, free photo IDs were to be provided.  The bill was vetoed by Democratic Governor Mark Dayton.

Missouri – The bill passed by lawmakers was to be on the ballot in the 2012 election, but the people of Missouri won’t get to vote on it since it was vetoed by Democratic Governor Jay Nixon.  The proposal would have allowed peo­ple to vote by pro­vi­sional bal­lot who are unable to obtain proper ID because of phys­i­cal or men­tal dis­abil­ity, an inabil­ity to pay for a doc­u­ment nec­es­sary to obtain the required iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, a reli­gious belief against forms of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion or the voter was born before Jan. 1, 1941.

“Students at state universities in Wisconsin cannot vote using their current IDs (because the new law requires the cards to have signatures, which those do not). South Carolina prohibits the use of student IDs altogether. Texas also rejects student IDs, but allows voting by those who have a license to carry a concealed handgun. These schemes are clearly crafted to affect not just how we vote, but who votes.”

Wisconsin – A government issued photo ID is required.  The bill passed and signed by the Governor requires the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to provide state identification cards free of charge.

South Carolina – Voters must show either driver’s licenses, photo IDs issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, passports, military IDs, or new voter registration cards that include photos.  Like Wisconsin, state identification cards will be provided free of charge.

Texas – Voters will have to show a state-issued ID card or a driver’s license, a military ID, a concealed hand gun license issued by the Department of Public Safety, a passport, a state-issued election identification certificate, which is a free ID issued to a person who requests it specifically for the purpose of voting.

I keep seeing those words “free ID”.  Rep. Lewis chose to ignore them since free IDs don’t help his bogus argument.

“Conservative proponents have argued for photo ID mandates by claiming that widespread voter impersonation exists in America, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. While defending its photo ID law before the Supreme Court, Indiana was unable to cite a single instance of actual voter impersonation at any point in its history. Likewise, in Kansas, there were far more reports of U.F.O. sightings than allegations of voter fraud in the past decade. These theories of systematic fraud are really unfounded fears being exploited to threaten the franchise.”

Rep. Lewis neglects to mention that the Supreme Court upheld the Indiana law on a 6-3 vote, declaring that a requirement to produce photo identification is not unconstitutional and that the state has a “valid interest” in improving election procedure as well as deterring fraud.

Rep. Lewis also neglects to mention that lawyers challenging the Indiana law did cite the experience of one would-be Indiana voter, Valerie Williams, who was turned away from the polling place in November 2006 by officials who told her that a telephone bill, a Social Security letter with her address and an expired driver’s license were no longer sufficient.

“Of course, I threw a fit,” she said in an interview with The New York Times. Ms. Williams, in her early 60’s, is black — and is a Republican.

Brian C. Bosma, who was speaker of the Indiana House when the law was enacted said, “This is only a burden for those who want to vote more than once.”

As for voter impersonation, Rep. Lewis neglects to mention that ACORN pled guilty to voter registration fraud in Nevada earlier this year.  Massive vote fraud was also uncovered in Houston. 

“Voters in other states weren’t so lucky. Florida has cut its early voting period by half, from 96 mandated hours over 14 days to a minimum of 48 hours over just eight days, and has severely restricted voter registration drives, prompting the venerable League of Women Voters to cease registering voters in the state altogether. Again, this affects very specific types of voters: according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, African-Americans and Latinos were more than twice as likely as white voters to register through a voter registration drive.”

The nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice?  Discover the Networks describes the Brennan Center as “think tank and legal activist group affiliated with New York University Law School and closely aligned with the Shadow Party of George Soros. The Center’s stated mission is to carry on the work of its namesake, former Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. (1906 – 1997). Brennan pioneered the modern practice of “legislating from the bench.” He promoted the idea that judges need not respect the “orginal intent” of the Constitution’s Framers.”

“These restrictions purportedly apply to all citizens equally. In reality, we know that they will disproportionately burden African Americans and other racial minorities, yet again. They are poll taxes by another name.”

Requiring photo identification, which is provided free of charge, is a poll tax?  Really? 

If Rep. Lewis is serious about ensuring that voters are not disenfranchised, perhaps he would produce any letter he wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder urging prosecution of the members of the New Black Panther Party who brandished nightsticks at a Philadelphia polling place in 2008.  The case was dropped by the Justice Department in 2009.  I’d bet the farm such a letter doesn’t exist.

Rep. Lewis has played fast and loose with the facts.  He has distorted the truth and left out crucial pieces of information.  When you don’t tell the whole truth, you are deliberately telling a lie.  What do you call someone who tells lies?

Note:  The National Conference of State Legislatures has an excellent web page detailing the voter identification requirements of each state, found here.

4 comments to Rep. John Lewis Distorts Truth About Voter ID Laws

  • Funny how the the liberals always throw a temper tantrum when talking about voter ID requirements. I received a record number of comments on my posts last year about Oklahoma’s voter ID state question. I was informed we were trying to fix a problem that didn’t exist. That’s one of their favorite arguments.

  • I fail to see the problem with presenting photo identification when voting. We have to present photo ID when buying alcohol, tobacco, cold medicine, doing banking, starting a new job, checking into a hotel, renewing a car tag, etc.

    I haven’t seen anyone from the left complaining that having to present photo ID when doing any of those things is unconstitutional or will ‘disenfranchise’ anyone from doing those things in the future.

    Their argument is completely bogus and I’m calling Lewis on it. He’s a liar.

  • David

    What if this is a cure for a nonexistent problem and the medicine does more harm than good. In person fraud basically does not exist. And creating hurdles and hassles will reduce voting. Are you for earlier voting, same day registration, and other known ways to increase turnout? We all should be, right?

  • In person fraud does not exist? I don’t think you read my entire post. Massive fraud was uncovered in Houston, and if I researched it more there are probably other instances. But, even if there was zero fraud, I see no reason at all to wait until the horses are missing before closing the barn door. Is asking someone to present photo ID when voting really a burden? I haven’t heard anyone complain of it being a burden when flying, renting a car, getting a hotel room, etc. I have no position on early voting or same day registration. Each state should be allowed to set their own rules on those issues, the same as states are allowed to set rules requiring photo ID be presented when voting.

    Additionally, you seem to be missing the main point of my post, which is that Lewis is a liar. He deliberately left out pieces of information about the voting laws in order to bolster his argument. Any argument borne out of lies is proof that the truth would be the opposite of the argued position. And since Lewis’ op-ed is filled with lies…

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