A few years back, I lost my wallet and had to replace my Social Security card and Oregon ID card. Obtaining the documents needed to replace them cost me over $100 and took over six months. If I had been unable to afford them, I still would have been able to vote here in Oregon, because I am registered and have voted in previous elections. But if I lived in one of the states where Republicans are trying to disenfranchise qualified voters, because they are poor, seniors, students, or minorities, and if I could not pay, I would not be allowed to vote.
In 1964, the American people enacted the 24th Amendment, to prevent the exclusion of the poor from the ballot box. In his speech last week at the NAACP convention, U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. wasn’t indulging in election-year rhetoric when he condemned Texas’ 2011 voter photo identification law as a poll tax that could do just that. He was speaking the hard legal truth.
The Justice Department would be right to challenge this new law as an unconstitutional poll tax. The department has temporarily blocked the Texas law under special provisions of the Voting Rights Act that prevent states with a history of discrimination from disadvantaging minority groups. But the attorney general should go further and raise a 24th Amendment challenge against Texas and other states that are joining the effort to bar the poor from the polls. This exclusionary campaign should not be allowed to destroy a great constitutional achievement of the civil rights revolution.
The 24th Amendment forbids the imposition of "any poll tax or other tax" in federal elections. Texas’ law flatly violates this provision in dealing with would-be voters who don’t have a state-issued photo ID. To obtain an acceptable substitute, they must travel to a driver’s license office and submit appropriate documents, along with their fingerprints, to establish their qualifications. If they don’t have the required papers, they must pay $22 for a copy of their birth certificate.
If they can’t come up with the money for the qualifying documents, they can’t vote. But the 24th Amendment denies states the power to create such a financial barrier to the ballot box…
Inserted from <LA Times>
I have little to add. The manner in which Republican oppressed states are implementing voter ID laws, such as closing offices in poor areas while extending hours of operations in rich areas, make it clear that these Voter ID laws have nothing to do with voter fraud. To the contrary, they are election fraud by the Republican Party.
Holder certainly should mount a 24th Amendment challenge to all such laws, not just in states that also violate the Voting Rights Act.