A Democratic lawmaker said Wednesday on the House floor that Republican legislators around the country are purposefully trying to deny blacks the right to vote by pushing for voter identification laws.
“It’s no coincidence that a disproportionate number of these affected voters come from communities of color as well as the poor, the elderly and students,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“Having been born and raised in Texas, this certainly looks like a poll tax to me, which those of us remember as a way to prevent African Americans from voting. These voter ID laws have a partisan agenda: seeking to disenfranchise and deny specific populations of voters before they have the opportunity to elect their representatives in government.”
She also said the laws are meant to change election outcomes by “turning the clock back to the days of Jim Crow.”
Lee is the latest Democrat to charge that laws requiring people to show a valid ID to vote are aimed at suppressing the black vote to get better results for Republicans in the 2012 elections. Republicans including Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) have said ID laws are needed because there are several examples of voter fraud, such as the discovery that ACORN was registering non-legal voters.
Last month, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz openly accused Republicans of trying to rig the 2012 elections by passing voter ID laws.
On Wednesday, Lee charged that the ID laws would prevent 1 in 4 blacks from voting, and 1 in 5 Hispanics and Asian Americans. She also said the laws are a return to the voter suppression that was seen in the controversial 2000 presidential election.
“I came to this floor years ago, after the stolen presidential elections in Florida and Ohio, to protest the results of those two elections that were filled with voter suppression,” she said. “It worked for Republicans before, and so legislators in 42 states in this map of shame have doubled down on these strategies to make it harder for certain communities to vote.”