August 29th, 2012
NAACP reaction to Voter ID law being pre-cleared
RICHMOND, VA - The U.S. Department of Justice pre-cleared Virginia’s Voter ID law that included the Governor Bob McDonnell’s Executive Order issued on May 18th.
The voter identification law allows several forms of identification - including valid, Virginia voter registration cards, Social Security cards, student identification cards, employee cards, and a utility bill. In the Executive Order, the State Board of Elections was also charged with issuing voter cards to all Virginia voters and launching a public education campaign.
“We spoke out in opposition to the voter ID bills introduced in the 2012 session as a means of voter suppression and weighed in with the US DOJ to reject pre-clearance,” said King Salim Khalfani, Executive Director of the Virginia State Conference.
“Governor McDonell’s Executive Order attempts to mitigate the effect that the voter identification law will have on many Virginia voters, but we also believe that the state’s resources should be used to enhance and increase the participation of VA citizens instead of suppress participation.”
In 2008, only about 67 percent of Virginian’s voting age population showed up at the ballot. A marked increase in participation since 2004, the NAACP hopes to continue mobilizing new and veteran voters under the new laws implemented in 2012.
“The NAACP supports the use of unique identifiers at the polling place, and as such there are dozens of ways to identify oneself that will not require a person to spend their resources and time to obtain overly restrictive and a conforming photo ID, and Virginia took some strides to eliminate the risks,” said Hilary Shelton, Director of the Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Advocacy at the NAACP. “However, it is the Department of Justice’s responsibility in Section 5 covered states to reject laws that could have an adverse impact on voters and are enacted so close to Election Day.”
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act prevents states from denying citizens the right to vote due to racial and ethnic discriminatory practices.
The Department of Justice has already rejected South Carolina and Texas voter ID laws, albeit more restrictive, due to their significant negative impact on minority communities.
Last December, the NAACP released the report “Defending Democracy” which detailed the various attacks on voting rights, including Florida’s change to third party, non partisan voter registration procedures.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States of America and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in both the public and private sectors.