Do Voter ID Laws Discriminate Against Minority Voters?

On Tuesday evening, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. made the case for overhauling America's elections systems in a speech on voting rights delivered at the presidential library of Lyndon B. Johnson, who signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

Holder advocated for significant changes in the voting process, including: automatically registering all eligible voters; barring state legislators from gerrymandering their own districts; and creating a federal statute against disseminating fraudulent information to prevent people from voting.

More than a dozen states have passed new voting restrictions this year. Among the most contentious changes are laws passed in eight states – Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kansas, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Texas – requiring voters to present a state-issued photo identification card at the ballot box. In the past, voters were able to use other forms of ID, including bank statements and Social Security cards.

The Justice Department is reviewing the case in South Carolina and Texas to determine whether these laws disproportionately deter minority groups from voting. Republicans say these restrictions are necessary to prevent voter fraud, while Democrats argue these initiatives are an effort to suppress voting by minority, Democratic-leaning voters.

Weigh in: Do you agree with Attorney General Holder's proposed changes? Do voter ID laws help to prevent fraud or are they exclusionary?

Photo Credit: ryanjreily

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