Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) convention. He will purportedly focus solely on the economy, steering clear of addressing the controversial voter identification laws that the civil rights organization sees as “systematically suppressing voters of color, students and the elderly.” Indeed, Romney has previously backed the very efforts the NAACP opposes, saying, “I like Voter ID laws by the way… more of them,” ignoring the evidence that voter ID laws disproportionately disenfranchise African-Americans:
- A Center for American Progress investigation concluded that “these laws hinder voting rights in a manner not seen since the era of Jim Crow,” given that minorities (along the young and the poor) are more likely to be unable to acquire photo identification.
- Indeed, 25 percent of African-American voters lack the type of ID required to vote under these laws.
- Attorney General Eric Holder called the standard voter ID legislation “a new poll tax” after his Department of Justice found sufficient grounds under the Voting Rights Act to block ID laws in South Carolina and Texas due to their disproportionate impact on minority voters.
- Voter fraud, the problem Voter ID laws are ostensibly supposed to correct, is basically nonexistent. Even proponents of the legislation can’t point to any actual examples.
- Voter ID laws are occasionally justified in straightforwardly racist or partisan Republican terms.
- Romney may know all of this – he used to support an extraordinarily progressive approach to getting voters ID.
Civil rights leaders are already taking a hard look at Romney’s “abysmal” record on the issues as Governor of Massachusetts. One has to wonder whether he – or any other Republican – could hope to make inroads in the African-American community while supporting such blatant voter suppression tactics.