Reps. Ellison, Moore: Voter Suppression Is Behind Focus On Holder

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Via Politic365:

Congressional Republican attacks on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, says Wisconsin Congresswoman Gwen Moore, may be about more than “Fast and Furious.”

On July 28, the House voted to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt for failing to disclose internal Justice Department documents tied to a House committee investigation into the sting operation on gun running from the United States into Mexico. But according to Congresswoman Moore, the move is a politically motivated response to Holder’s office’s legal challenges to voter suppression laws.

“I totally agree with Nancy Pelosi,” Moore, a Democrat, said, adding that Holder is “being pilloried” to discredit the Department of Justice as it evaluates laws that could change the electoral map in November’s election.

Holder’s office has the authority to reject changes to voting laws in some states under the Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which protects racial and language minority voters against discriminatory effect. Voter ID laws in South Carolina and Texas, for example, were not approved by DOJ. Those states are now going to court to overturn DOJ’s decisions.

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Moore spoke during a teleconference with ethnic media organized by New America Media and the Brennan Center for Justice. Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, also a Democrat and one of the two Muslim legislators now serving in Congress, was also on the call.

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“We’re in a struggle over power,” Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison said, arguing that the efforts to impose restrictions on the vote are driven by opponents of President Obama’s election. “If we ever thought that was the end of the story, we were wrong.”

In his state, voting ID provisions were passed into law after Republicans took control of the legislature, but were vetoed by the governor. Proponents were successful in getting them placed on a ballot initiative that will be decided by Minnesota voters during the November election.

Ellison sponsored the Same-Day Registration Act, which would allow any citizen to register and vote the same day in a federal election, as Minnesota already does. He was also a key backer of the Voter Access Protection Act, which “prohibits federal election officials from requiring photo identification to cast a vote or to register to vote.”

During the call, he pointed to a poll conducted last year that found “about 78 percent of Minnesotans thought requiring voter ID would be a good thing.” More recent polling, he said, has seen that number decline to 52 percent as a coalition of anti-restrictive voting ID activists have ramped up education and outreach activities to the public.

“The Democratic caucus is extremely concerned about [these] voter suppression efforts,” he said, adding it will look to the DOJ as well as state election officials to make sure laws are vetted and implemented fairly. But while politics may be paramount, at the core of the issue, he argued, is the “vast lack of uniformity in how Americans get to vote.”

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