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Eric Holder: Voter ID Laws Hurt Minorities

Under increasing pressure from civil rights groups to take action against a wave of state voter identification laws, Attorney General Eric Holder issued a public warning Tuesday that the new laws could disenfranchise minority voters, but he stopped short of promising the broad legal crackdown many activists are seeking


Eight states have passed laws that require voters to show IDs at the polls. | AP Photo

“It is time to ask: What kind of nation and what kind of people do we want to be? Are we willing to allow this era — our era — to be remembered as the age when our nation’s proud tradition of expanding the franchise ended?” Holder said in a speech at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, Texas.

This year, eight states have passed laws that require voters to show identification at the polls. Two of those states, South Carolina and Texas, need so-called pre-clearance from the Justice Department or a court, which has not yet been granted. Some states are also rolling back early voting options and adding new registration procedures, while others are imposing rules that could make it more difficult for college students and the elderly to vote.

Critics complain that the measures will have a disproportionate impact on minorities and the poor and are aimed at suppressing turnout of voters who tend to support Democrats. Supporters generally cite a need to fight fraud, though some have on occasion admitted seeking to discourage voting by specific groups, such as students.

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