Black Conservatives Say Attorney General Holder's Tuesday Night Speech at LBJ Library Was Partisan and Racialist
"Eric Holder is Putting the Quality of our Electoral Process at Risk" and "the Real Racists... Claim Enforcing Voting ID Laws Hurts Minorities" Say Project 21 Spokesmen
Voter ID "Protects the Voices of Those who Deserve to be Heard"
Washington, D.C. - On the heels of Attorney General Eric Holder's fiercely political and racially divisive speech Tuesday night, members of the Project 21 black leadership network are criticizing Holder for treating Americans differently based on their race or ethnicity and for his apparent disregard of very real voter fraud threats.
In his speech at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum in Austin, Texas, General Holder made clear the Justice Department is reviewing and expects in some cases to challenge Voter ID and other ballot security measures enacted or under consideration at the state level.
Holder also stepped away from his constitutional role as enforcer of laws enacted by others by promoting new laws to make voter registration automatic, saying, "All eligible citizens can and should be automatically registered to vote... It should be the government's responsibility to automatically register citizens to vote."
Holder also selectively criticized state redistricting, complaining that the Texas legislature did not create new majority-minority districts primarily designed to elect Hispanics (most likely Democrats) to Congress, but not mentioning a Maryland plan that creates bizarrely-shaped districts in an apparent attempt to block the reelection of a specific white Republican incumbent. The Washington Post called the Maryland plan "highly partisan and racially charged"; it is opposed by a Congressional Black Caucus member, Representative Donna Edwards (D-MD) and the Justice Department has received an appeal to investigate it.
Holder was similarly partisan and racialist in choosing an example of voter fraud to cite, selecting a robocall incident linked to a white Republican gubernatorial candidate who lost while ignoring credible allegations of ballot access fraud in Indiana favoring a black male candidate who won over a white female candidate in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.
Project 21 members have long advocated color-blind public policies and supported commonsense ballot security measures. In 2008, Project 21 and the Center for Equal Opportunity presented an amici curiae ("friend of the court") brief to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that Indiana's law and other voter ID laws do not suppress voter turnout. The court subsequently ruled in favor of Voter ID laws in a decisive 6-3 decision.
"In a bank transaction, documentation is necessary so the bank is sure a customer is who they say they are. The banking system can't survive on the honor system. Rules prevent monumental fraud, and no thinking person would claim a racial motive. So how is it that when the same principles are applied to voting it is somehow fascistic and bigoted?" asks Project 21 spokesman Reginald Jones. "The real racists are those who claim that enforcing voting ID laws hurts minorities as if we of all people live outside the system that all Americans live under for our own protection. Critics of ballot integrity protections such as Eric Holder don't have a leg to stand on."
"By making quantity a priority for voting, Eric Holder is putting the quality of our electoral process at risk," said Project 21 spokeswoman Cherylyn Harley LeBon, a former senior counsel for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. "While Holder and others like to recall the racial barriers of the past in order to demonize new ballot security efforts, they seem to be blind to the potential abuses of the system that will rob legal voters of their rights when the polls are flooded with new voters who don't need to properly identify themselves."
Holder cited allegations of vote suppression based on race, language and even immigration status, but dismissively referred to false-identity voter fraud as "uncommon."
But with clear examples of voting irregularities, including a recent 50-year sentence for a Mississippi NAACP official who illegally cast absentee ballots, allegations of a sweetheart settlement at Holder's own Justice Department for members of the New Black Panther Party, and a Green Party gubernatorial candidate's name being listed falsely as "Rich Whitey" on 500 Chicago voting machines (about half in majority black districts), Project 21 members worry that Holder's attitude may give political fixers an effective green light for certain kinds of voter fraud.
"Voting is a right, but it must be treated as a privilege and only be exercised by legal American citizens," said Project 21 spokeswoman Lisa Fritsch, author of the book Obama, Tea Parties and God and a resident of Austin, Texas. "With four million 'new residents' in Texas, as Holder described them in his speech, there seems to an urgency in Texas and Washington to capitalize on the voting force illegal aliens and other potentially invalid voters could create. And though Holder would like us to believe that requiring proper identification may be an obscene violation of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Americans know that this crucial validation of legal voters protects the voices of those who deserve to be heard."
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives since 1992, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).