After the state of Georgia fought a protracted court battle over its voter identification law, the US Justice Department is again rejecting a Georgia voter verification law. Georgia voter laws are still required to pass federal muster under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In a letter released June 1, the Justice Department said that the new law discriminates against minority voters.
The charge of discrimination was also used to challenge Georgia’s photo ID law. In spite of the fact that the law offered identification cards free of charge to voters, opponents claimed that the law placed an undue burden on minorities. The law was eventually upheld by upheld by an appeals court.
The new law would have cross-referenced voter social security and driver’s license numbers to ensure that they were citizens, a requirement for voting. The Justice Department charges that many of the voters flagged by the system were citizens who were flagged in error. Further, the citizens flagged in error were disproportionately from minority groups.
For anyone who paid attention during the 2008 elections, the need for voter verification is obvious. Groups like ACORN were implicated in massive amounts of voter registration fraud. The Minnesota senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken is still contested, in part because of numerous irregularities in vote counting. The 2000 presidential election in Florida is a case study in the need for integrity in our electoral system.
Additionally, Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel said that Georgia is currently investigating 30 cases of non-citizen voting. One case involves a Jamaican woman, living legally in Georgia, who has been voting illegally since 2004. The woman turned herself in after she learned that she was not legally entitled to a vote.
Voter fraud comes in two areas. First, there is the possibility that people who are not eligible to vote will cast illegal ballots. This may include illegal aliens, dead people, or people casting multiple ballots. It is this possibility that the Republican Party tends to focus on. The second possibility is that legitimate voters will be barred from voting. This gets the most attention from the Democratic Party.
The obvious answer is that both angles need to be covered to have a trustworthy election. People who are entitled to vote need to be able to vote, but only once. People who shouldn’t vote need to be barred from casting a ballot. If people can’t trust election results then the very foundation of our democracy is in danger.
In keeping with that line of reasoning, if the current system of validating citizenship for Georgia voters doesn’t work, fix it. Don’t throw it out.
Some Democrats seem to understand this; others do not. For instance, Rep. John Lewis said the citizenship checks were “an attempt to take us back to another dark period in our history when people were denied access to the ballot box simply because of their race or nationality.” Evidently, some people feel that any burden of proof is too much.
I seriously doubt that there is any plans withing the General Assembly or the Georgia Department of State to deny minorities the right to vote. The only minorities that should be denied the right to vote are non-citizens and people who have lost that right, such as felons.
Interestingly enough, there have been several proposals around the country to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections. There have also been proposals to allow felons to regain their right to vote. It should come as a surprise to no one that these proposals originate from the left side of the political spectrum. (Georgia already allows felons to vote upon completion of their sentence.)
For that reason, Secretary Handel has decided that the Obama Justice Department may require some urging to approve any such citizenship test at all. To that end, she has created a petition asking President Obama and Attorney-General Holder to allow Georgia to prevent illegal aliens and non-citizens from voting.
You can sign the petition here.