Monday, October 03, 2005

A More Sinister Southern Strategy

In the wake of the Katrina disaster, race relations in the United States have once again come to the forefront of the public consciousness. Sadly, the State of Georgia has struck a blow against the improvement of those relations.

From the NAACP:
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has joined a consortium of voting rights advocates and private attorneys in filing a federal lawsuit challenging the Georgia law (House Bill 244) that requires voters to present state issued photo identification at the polls. The plaintiffs charge the law violates the state and federal constitutions, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The Georgia voter identification law reduces the various forms of identification that voters can use from 17 to six, and makes government issued photo identification absolutely required in order to vote. People without a driver license, may purchase a five-year identification card for a $20 fee. The measure was signed into law in April by Governor Sonny Perdue.

House Bill 244 is little more than a modern day incarnation of the poll tax, a common feature in the post-Reconstruction South. It's estimated that in some voting districts where poll taxes were enacted, African-American voter turnout dropped to less than 1%. They remain a black mark on our nation's history and the return of such a law is a travesty that cannot be allowed to go unresolved.

House Bill 244 leaves no doubt that the Republican "Southern Strategy" is alive and well.

[Update from NPR: The state ID cards required can only be purchased at certain county offices in Georgia, less than half of which actually sell the ID cards. Atlanta is one of the counties where you cannot buy a state ID. Anyone care to guess where the largest concentration of minority Democratic voters are located?]

No comments: