NAACP president Benjamin Jealous harshly criticized attempts by Republican-controlled legislators to stiffen voting regulations, likening them to the Jim Crow laws of the pre-civil rights era. In addition, he said that voter ID laws are a response to the election of the nation’s first African-American president, Reuters reports.
"Our voting rights are under attack because a few years ago, we had a great breakthrough in this country," Jealous said in a speech delivered at the 102nd annual NAACP convention in Los Angeles. "We broke the color line at the White House."
Jealous cited a voter ID law in Wisconsin, which he said would prevent about half of the state’s Black and Latino voters from casting ballots because they don’t have the requisite state-issued IDs. He also said that Arizona’s new law, which requires a photo ID to register to vote would prevent 40,000 people from voting.
"Simply put, people who are too poor to own a car don't tend to have a driver's license," he said.
The NAACP and other organizations are launching campaigns to educate minority and poor voters about the new laws.
Hans von Spakovsky, a former Federal Election Commission member and a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said that Jealous’ comments showed a "complete ignorance of the voting process" and that minority voter turnout increased in Indiana and Georgia after they enacted voter ID laws. He added that legal challenges to the two states’ laws were unsuccessful because the plaintiffs couldn’t find anyone who’d been unable to vote because of the requirement.
"Jim Crow laws weren't just about voting. They were about impeding public accommodations and public transportation. Yet, you cannot check into a hotel anywhere in America without a photo ID,” Von Spakovsky told the newswire. “You cannot get on any airplane without a photo ID, and I don't hear the NAACP claiming those requirements are somehow Jim Crow."
(Photo: Fred Prouser/Landov)