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Surprise, Surprise - Dems playing the race card


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AUGUST 3, 2011

Bill Clinton Does 'Jim Crow'

Democrats play the race card over voter ID laws.

The last time Bill Clinton tried to play the race card, it blew up his wife's primary campaign in South Carolina. Well, the Voice is back, this time portraying the nationwide movement to pass voter ID laws as the return of Jim Crow.

"There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the other Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today," the former President warned a student group last month.

Mr. Clinton is talking about states like Kansas, Wisconsin, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and the notoriously Confederate state of Rhode Island that have instituted or tightened voter laws this year.

These states are trying to reduce the incidence of voter fraud, which if not epidemic is hardly unknown in America. The liberal group Acorn's widespread voter-registration fraud in recent years drew national attention to the problem and criminal actions. The 2008 Minnesota Senatorial race, where a legal challenge over the validity of absentee ballots decided the outcome by 312 votes, was another warning sign. Kansas received 221 reports of voter fraud between 1997 and 2010, according to a recent op-ed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Voter ID laws can't fix every problem, but they are a start. As the Heritage Foundation's Hans von Spakovsky points out, these laws prevent voters from impersonating someone else, make it harder for a person to vote at multiple locations and block illegal aliens from voting. Some states, like Kansas, are also reforming voting-registration laws and absentee-ballot rules to ensure up-to-date voter rolls.

Mr. Clinton claims Republicans are trying to "make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate," presumably by reducing Democratic turnout. But Democratic voters have no harder time getting a driver's license than do Republicans.

The federal courts have repeatedly upheld the constitutionality of voter ID laws. In 2008, John Paul Stevens—no conservative—wrote for a six-vote Supreme Court majority that voter ID laws don't constitute an undue burden on citizens attempting to vote. States typically let voters cast a provisional ballot if they can't prove citizenship on polling day, and they provide IDs for free if needed.

No wonder voters of every age, race and income consistently support these reforms. A Rasmussen poll in June showed 75% of likely voters favor voter ID laws, as did 63% of Democrats. In Rhode Island, where Democrats control both state legislative houses, a Democratic speaker co-sponsored the new voter ID law. "I think that party leaders have tried to make this a Republican versus Democrat issue," state Rep. Jon Brien told the Pew Center on the States's Stateline news service. "It's not. It's simply a good government issue."

None of that is deterring Democrats from using voter ID to drum up racial fears. Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz used the "Jim Crow" line earlier this year, adding "photo I.D. laws, we think, are very similar to a poll tax." Democratic Senators and House members have asked the Justice Department to take action. Look for this to be a consistent Democratic theme as the election approaches, amid party fears that declining real incomes will dampen enthusiasm about re-electing President Obama.

Perhaps these naysayers could take a page from one of the Rhode Island law's supporters, Democratic state senator and co-sponsor Harold Metts, who told a local newspaper, "I'm all for party loyalty, but God gave me a brain and I use it."


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