EDITORIAL: Knock the vote

Obama Justice is suppressing a clean count

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The Obama administration is suppressing efforts to ensure the Nov. 6 vote tally will be fair and accurate. Several states have passed voter-identification laws so the principle of “one man, one vote” is upheld. The Justice Department is playing a legalistic version of Whack-a-Mole in trying to knock down these statutes wherever they pop up.

Pennsylvania became the most recent target of a federal investigation on July 23, when the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division demanded data on the state’s registered voters and those with ID cards. It’s one of 11 states that have adopted laws since 2010 requiring voters to present a valid ID in order to cast a ballot on Election Day. Sponsors of the measures say they are designed to prevent election fraud, but opponents contend the real intent is to suppress the vote of minorities and the elderly who might not possess proper ID. On orders from Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Justice filed suit to block voter ID laws in South Carolina and Texas and has launched investigations in Florida and Georgia.

State efforts to hold clean elections have been characterized as a 21st-century version of the poll tax, a tool used in the Old South to prevent blacks from casting ballots. Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requires states with a history of racial-discrimination mandates to receive approval before altering their election laws, but in probing Pennsylvania, the department expanded its purview northward to a state not covered by the act.

When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, the Keystone State did see suppression mischief, but not of the sort that voter ID opponents fear. In Philadelphia, several nightstick-carrying members of the New Black Panther Party were charged with voter intimidation after threatening white voters at the polling place. Higher-ups at Justice ordered the charges dropped, leading to growing perception that the department harbors racial bias.

House Republicans are speculating that the department is more concerned with aiding Mr. Obama’s re-election. “The Department of Justice has embarrassed itself. The partisan bias is obvious,” said Rep. Trent Franks, Arizona Republican, during a July 26 House Judiciary subcommittee meeting.

The fear of voter-ID opponents that large numbers don’t have valid identification is likely misplaced. A study by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach shows that since the state’s Secure and Fair Elections Act of 2011 went into effect, only 32 of the state’s 1.7 million voters have requested a free ID — amounting to a tiny 0.002 percent of voters.

A Rasmussen survey in December showed that 70 percent of individuals polled approve of a photo-ID requirement while only 22 percent oppose such a rule. It’s clear the only vote suppression Americans favor is that of ineligible ballots. It’s equally evident that on Nov. 6, Mr. Obama would prefer re-election over a clean election.

The Washington Times

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