The Department of Disenfranchisement

While President Bush proclaims his support for democracy around the world, his Justice Department is busy stifling it here at home. The Department of Justice recently approved Georgia’s plan to force voters to show a state-issued ID that can be obtained in only 59 of the state’s 159 counties, none of which are in the six counties with the highest percentage of African Americans.

This is especially troubling because of the apparent racist motivations of the bill’s backers. The chief sponsor of Georgia’s bill told the Justice Department that “if there are fewer black voters because of this bill, it will only be because there is less opportunity for fraud.” Even the Justice Department’s own experts believe this will disenfranchise eligible voters.

Today, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) announced that he would veto similar legislation in his state because “it would disenfranchise some of the state’s most vulnerable residents.”

The Department of Justice used to focus on expanding minority voting rights — now they are approving plans to restrict them. There was a time when conservatives would balk at disenfranchising voters — today it’s standard practice.

— Sam Davis