We told you earlier this week about the new voting laws that are going to have a serious impact on African-American votes come the 2012 elections. Places like Alabama, for instance, are passing new rules demanding voters have specific forms of identification — photo ID, birth certificate, etc. — that may be hard for some Black Americans to come by, for various reasons both financial and historical (for instance, a Black person born in a town where Blacks weren’t allowed into the hospital may have never been given a birth certificate).
By and large, most Black activists are against the new laws, primarily because Blacks were disenfranchised for so long via things like poll taxes that even more rules keeping Blacks out of the voting booths would be racist at worst, atavistic at best. But now the new laws have found an unlikely ally in a former Democratic congressman and Obama acquaintance.
Writing for the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper, Artur Davis, who represented Alabama as a congressman from 2002-2010, said that though he once disagreed with the new voting laws, he’s since changed his mind. “When I was a congressman, I took the path of least resistance on this subject for an African-American politician," he wrote. "Without any evidence to back it up, I lapsed into the rhetoric of various partisans and activists who contend that requiring photo identification to vote is a suppression tactic aimed at thwarting Black voter participation."
Davis, who ran for governor of Alabama and lost last year, went on to say that he’s seen some of the worst voter fraud in his life take place in Black communities (though when he was asked by Slate and TPM to give some examples, he declined).
That he declined to give specific instances is telling. That he ran for the governorship as a Democrat and lost in Alabama, a very conservative state, is also telling. Even more telling is that there are reports that Davis may be considering a switch to the Republican Party, to try his hand at politics with the GOP. While nothing’s certain yet, writing an article in the newspaper about how Blacks have been cheating to get votes for years is a good way to ingratiate yourself with conservatives in the South. It should be interesting to see where Davis goes with this line of thinking in the coming months.
(Photo: ALMOND/Birmingham News /Landov)