Dan Tokaji's Blog
Professor Dan Tokaji
Election reform, the Voting Rights Act, the Help America Vote Act, and related topics -- with special attention to the voting rights of people of color, non-English proficient citizens, and people with disabilities

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Equal Vote
Wednesday, August 31
More Georgia ID Fallout
As noted here, the U.S. Department of Justice precleared Georgia's recently enacted ID law on Friday. Excerpts from DOJ's explanation of its decision are available here. It's a model of misdirection, avoiding the critical issue -- whether African Americans are less likely to lack photo ID than white voters -- and instead focusing on tangential facts such as that "[m]ore whites than blacks live in Georgia counties without a DDS office." It makes the apples-and-oranges argument that black turnout went up in the last election despite HAVA's ID requirement, disregarding the fact that HAVA doesn't require state-issued photo ID, but instead allows many other types of documents showing the voter's name and address. Thus, voters who don't have a driver's license can easily comply with HAVA. Not so with Georgia's new law.

Significantly, there's no evidence documenting that Georgia's new stringent photo ID requirement will prevent any fraud that wouldn't otherwise be prevented by HAVA's existing requirement. Moreover, as David Becker noted in this Washington Post op-ed, the Georgia law exempts absentee ballots from ID requirements even though that's the only place where there's been documented fraud in the state. That exposes the contention that this is an anti-fraud measure to be nothing more than a pretext.

The Georgia ID bill isn't really about curbing fraud. It's a disfranchisement strategy, plain and simple, and the people impeded from voting will disproportionately be racial minorities.

Already, county officials are struggling to implement the new law's mandate. As reported here, Gwinnett County will have to comply with the law in an election set for next Tuesday, absent some court order. A League of Women spokesperson calls the last-minute change in rules "completely unacceptable." The NAACP is saying that it will bring suit, as has occurred in at least two other states (Indiana and Arizona). They'll have a strong case, particularly if they can muster statistical evidence on who does and doesn't have the types of identification required by Georgia's law.

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