On more occasions than the media cares to report, minorities are let down by their so-called leaders because they fail to support policies that protect them.
Instead, the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the world constantly use the race card to resist change -change that is often beneficial to their constituencies but doesn't do much to keep them in power.
Such is the case with Georgia's new election reform law, just approved by the U.S. Justice Department. The new law, which the ACLU is threatening to take to court, drew hysterical condemnations from Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, Jackson and other liberals because it requires voters to present a photo identification to vote.
Instead of making outlandish allegations about Jim Crow and racism, these figures should instead focus on who is the easiest victim of voter fraud. It's the poor, elderly and minorities.
An African-American member of the Georgia House who works in law enforcement testified earlier this year that identity theft is more common in poor communities where mail is often stolen. As a result, these residents were more susceptible to identity fraud at the polls. If someone presented one of 17 forms of identification previously accepted in Georgia, such as a power bill, poll workers were forbidden to ask for another piece of identification to verify the person's identity.
The Georgia Legislature acted thoughtfully when it passed this election reform measure. We heard testimony from elections officials in Fulton County, home to the city of Atlanta and the largest black population in the state. They testified that in 2004, the elections board received 2,456 fraudulent voter registration forms. The U.S. Attorney's office is investigating.
In response to potential concerns, we included safeguards to protect the poor, minorities and the elderly. Seniors can use an expired driver's license or vote by absentee ballot for any reason. A mobile bus started touring Georgia last week, beginning in Augusta, responding to requests from organizations including the NAACP or local nursing homes to help everyone get a photo ID who needs one.
There are other protections in place. If a voter shows up at the polls on Election Day without one of six approved forms of identification, he or she can cast a provisional ballot. The voter is then given 48 hours to bring the photo ID to the local elections office.
Unlike the days of poll taxes and Jim Crow laws, this standard will apply universally to all voters. It has an 80 percent public approval rating because the need for photo ID transcends race, age or gender. We need a photo ID to board a plane or train, obtain certain prescription drugs, get a video rental card, use a charge card, cash a check, purchase cigarettes and other daily activities.
With this year being the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, there are those who want to push back the hands of time by looking for ghosts of the old South in Georgia's new election law. But even Andrew Young, a top lieutenant to the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and a former ambassador to the United Nations, called the identification requirement reasonable. The lawsuit wastes time and energy that instead should be directed toward helping the very few without a photo ID to get one.
In giving approval to Georgia's law, the Justice Department noted that there are 2.3 million more Georgians of voting age with either a driver's license or state-issued photo identification than registered voters. The Justice Department found the new law does not discriminate against the poor or the elderly. If Mexico and other countries require photo ID to secure elections, then why can't the ACLU and others accept this as well?
Back in 2000 when the presidential contest consumed our nation's attention for weeks, the Left's mantra was that every vote should count. The same rationale applies here in Georgia because for every fraudulent vote cast, it discriminates against the millions of honest voters.
Ultimately, we believe that is what the courts will consider the highest priority when it throws out this lawsuit.
(State Rep. Sue Burmeister, a Republican whose district includes portions of Columbia and Richmond counties, sponsored Georgia's election reform legislation which included the photo identification provision.)
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