Never one to shy away from a fight, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder went into Texas today and aimed a barrage of criticism on the Lone Star State’s efforts to require voter IDs, comparing the new Texas law to an illegal poll tax.
“We will not allow political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious rights,” Mr. Holder said to the cheering crowd at the NAACP convention in Houston.
Holder has made himself a hated target of the Republican Party because of his willingness to speak out against Republican attempts to disenfranchise Americans. In fact, many observers believe the context of the recent Congressional vote to hold him in contempt was really Congressional Republicans finding a way to exact revenge for Holder’s vigorous fight against efforts across the country to keep Americans away from the polls.
As Holder spoke to the NAACP, a federal panel of judges in Washington is in the midst of a trial to determine whether the Texas voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act. The Texas law would require voters to present government issued photo IDs to cast a ballot.
The attorney general said the Texas law permits concealed handgun licenses as a valid voter ID but not student IDs. Holder added that the law would disproportionately affect African Americans, according to a study that found while roughly 8 percent of white voting-age citizens lack government issued photo ID, 25 percent of prospective voters who are African-American do not possess acceptable identification.
“I can’t predict the future. And I don’t know what will happen as this case moves forward,” Holder said. “But I can assure you that the Justice Department’s efforts to uphold and enforce voting rights will remain aggressive.”
“The arc of American history has always moved toward expanding the electorate. It is what has made this nation exceptional,” Holder said. “We will simply not allow this era to be the beginning of the reversal of that historic progress.”