voting rights are under attack: trump’s “civil rights” guy supports voter id laws

January 26, 2017

President Trump has spent most of his first week in office in denial of many facts. Opting instead to believe whatever he’d like to tell himself. One of the more blatant rejections of information being in his claim 3-5 million people committed criminal acts of voter fraud. His paranoia now launching an investigation into events that have no evidence or history of happening. Outside of being a waste of time, this bizarre claim means that voter rights is probably something next of Trump’s extremley troubling adgenda. Trump’s pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, an ultra-conservative (racist) who referred to the Voting Rights Act as “intrusive”, would be in charge of making sure voting rights are protected. When asked about the Obama Admins. biggest Voting Rights case, Sessions expressed opposition to the findings of racial disenfranchisement from an Obama-era Voting Rights case saying, “On the surface, it does not appear to me to be that [by ”that“ he means ”racist],” Session said. “I have publicly said that I think voter ID laws, properly drafted, are OK.”

In addition to Trump himself and Sessions, Indiana lawyer Thomas E. Wheeler, who served as counsel to Vice President Mike Pence when he was governor of the state, was named the acting head of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. Back in 2011 when fellow Trump appointee Rick Perry signed a voting bill that was created explicitly to discriminate against black and latino voters. Offering support for the bill, Wheeler suggested to Texas legislators that voter ID laws actually increase voter turn out. Another #AlternativeFact.

The problem with voter ID laws is that America does not have a voter fraud problem to begin with. People largely just show up to their polling place, fill out the paperwork, vote, and go home. People do not, in significant droves, plot to steal elections by pretending to be other people. Frankly, people hardly want to vote the lawful way. Those are the facts. That fact aside, what is the problem with having people prove who they are in order to vote if nobody’s trying to commit fraud? Because the groups who are affected most negatively by Voter ID laws are poor people of color.

For example, in 2015 Alabama lawmakers began aggressively pushing a “controversial” voter ID law that requires eligible voters to show a valid ID in order to vote. In theory, this doesn’t sound horrible. Depending on where you live, just filling out the initial voting form with your personal information will suffice and your right to vote will be used, so to speak. Having an ID is just visual confirmation that you are who you say you are.

After the enforcement of the strict ID law, Alabama moved to shut down as many as 34 drivers licensing offices throughout the state—most of them in rural, impoverished black-majorities counties. The rationale for this was due to budget cuts, but the real life implications of deep South counties making it harder for black people to vote is crystal clear.

By Erin White*, AFROPUNK contibutor

*Erin White is an Atlanta-based writer and AFROPUNK’s editorial and social media assistant. You can follow her on Tumblr or friend her on Facebook. Have a pitch or an inquiry? Shoot her an email at erin@afropunk.com.