Thursday, 29 August 2013 14:29
US Justice, Holder wrong on Voter ID, Voters Right Act
Written by 

HolderThese guys at the Justice Department, led by top cop Eric Holder, just don’t know when to quit. 


The U.S. Supreme Court knocks them down and they get right back up, snubbing their noses at a final court decision, and starting a new civil war with states nationwide.  It’s the voting rights challenge redux, with the same issues and the same fight that Holder and his team of lawyers have been undertaking for years. And in their quixotic efforts, once again, they are trying to paint the South as the bad guys.

It’s been less than two months since the Supremes issued their most recent voting rights decision that said the Justice Department could not continue to require special oversight mandated by The Voting Rights Act of 1965.  This law singled out a number of southern states requiring them to “pre-clear” any effort to change the voting laws in their respective states.  And I mean any changes.

If the state’s chief elections officer (a job I held as Secretary of State for Louisiana back in the 80s) wanted to change a voting precinct by a few yards, the state was required to go to the Justice Department to genuflect and ask for permission.  But that was then, and the high court finally said enough is enough.

Nevertheless, Holder and Company are trying to find other ways to skin the cat.  Right after high court’s statement, the Attorney General admonished: “We will not allow the Supreme Court’s recent decision to be interpreted as open season for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights.”  Right on, and most of us would agree.  But the proof is in the pudding.  Just what are discriminatory actions and new state laws the Justice Department interprets as needing their consent?

How about showing a photo ID when a registered voter goes to the polls?  Isn’t showing a government document with a photo a pretty basic requirement of daily life?  When you go to cash a check, “May I see a photo ID please.”  Getting ready to board a plane?  Photo ID required.  When I went to a video store recently to get a SpongeBob DVD for my a grandkid, what did they ask for?  A photo ID.

To fill a prescription my local pharmacist requires that I show an ID. An identification card with one’s picture has become a regular necessity.  So what’s the big deal about showing proof of who you are to participate in electing those who will control our lives in so many ways?

No way, say those protectors of our constitutional rights.  From the way Holder and the many who disagree with the Supreme Court decision frame it, we are reverting back to the Jim Crow days with Bull Conner and his German Shepherds forcing voters away from the polls.  Requiring a voter to present a photo ID card is an issue of racism, they say. We are setting back the voting rights of minorities by decades, and we’ll see a dramatic drop in voter participation, so say the Feds.

The Justice Department recently filed suit against Texas for the ID voting requirement, asserting that Hispanics and African-Americans are less likely to have required photo IDs.  Texas allows any type of government issued ID, including driver’s licenses, state issued ID cards, passports and handgun permits.  The Justice Department has threatened suits against North Carolina, Florida, and any other state that holds fast on an ID requirement.

In my home state of Louisiana, the Justice Department has demanded that the state hand over a host of confidential information that is required by state law to be kept secret, including a the social security numbers, date of birth and mother’s maiden name of some 3 million voters.  Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler calls it “data mining,” and labeled the effort “like Big Brother.”

So, are the thousands of voters who show up at the polls and fail to produce a photo ID being turned away or even being challenged?  No.  All these southern states allow “provisional ballots.”  In Louisiana, a voter who shows up at the polls with no picture ID merely has to sign an affidavit that states that the voter is, in fact, legally registered at that precinct.  That’s it.  When the voter first registers to vote, no photo ID is even required, and potential voters can register not only at the various clerk of court’s offices, but also at numerous other state offices including all social service locations.  A new voter can even register to vote online.  Could it be any easier for a new voter to register?

Let me share with you how difficult it used to be for me to vote in Louisiana when I served as Secretary of State, a job that included being the chief elections officer.  My hometown was Ferriday, Louisiana, which is about a 2-hour drive from the state capital in Baton Rouge.  The law at that time did not allow for absentee voting if the voter was in the state on Election Day.  But my job required that my office be open and that I be present to oversee the elections that were scheduled throughout the state. What was a conflicted public servant to do?

Each election day, I would rise at 3:30 am and head from my home in Baton Rouge to Ferriday.  My first stop was the local donut shop in Ferriday to pick up several boxes of hot donuts for the polling commissioners who were all old friends.  Then it was off to my polling location (ward 1, precinct 1) and I was waiting at the door at 6:00 am when the polls opened.  A quick visit, the casting of my vote, then hightailing it back to the state capitol to oversee the Election Day activities.  Now that, I think you will agree, is a major effort to cast a vote.

 It’s so much easier to participate in our democratic process today.  Merely showing a picture ID seems like a small price to pay and a small effort to make.  The South, like the nation, has made huge strides since the initial voting rights act of 1965.  A politicized Justice Department does a disservice to the citizenry by challenging any state that adopts something so basic as requiring a simple photo ID to maintain the integrity of the democratic process.


“Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Albert Einstein

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

 Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at

Print Friendly

- See more at:

Jim Brown

Jim Brown is a Louisiana legislator, Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner.  

Login to post comments
  • A July 4th Fact of Facts: America is Land of Immigrants
  • Poll: Trump strong on jobs, weak on tweets, viewed as reckless, thin-skinned, sexist
  • President Trump, It doesn't feel like Independence Day
  • YIPPIE! The naked truth about free speech, cherished especially on Independence Day

mass2On July 4, 1778, George Washington doubled liquor rations for the soldiers quartered in Princeton, NJ, as a way to celebrate Independence Day. It’s fitting, therefore, that the Fourth of July is America's top-selling beer holiday, according to the Beer Institute. It estimated, in 2013, that sales of beer on the 4th could total $1 billion, doubtlessly higher today. “In moderation,” claims a CA brewery investor, Grover McKean, “beer is tasty and healthy.” Who could disagree?

Read More

joe mikaAs Donald Trump faces the top world leaders this week, including a face-time with Vladimir Putin, and as his healthcare proposals face an uphill climb, his poll numbers for how the nation views him could be better.

According to a morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday morning, his tweets, including that against MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski, and his personality are not helping him, at all.

Read More

indy dayII know the calendar says we are approaching the 4th of July, but, it just doesn’t feel like Independence Day.

Perhaps it should.  It’s hot as heck.  The airlines have been packed. The hot dogs are ready for grilling.  The umps are saying, "play ball". The patriotic activities are scheduled. The fireworks are ready-for-blasting. 

Yet, it just doesn’t feel like independence day.

Read More

bill rights2To President Thomas Jefferson, July 4th celebrated more than the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He thought it was a link to the future. The message prominent colonists sent to King George III led to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the initial and most prominent feature of which is the First Amendment that guarantees free speech. It’s part of the country’s fundamental essence that each man and woman can say what they feel about government, or anything else, proving President Donald Trump needs some civics lessons.

Read More


Dead Pelican

Optimized-DeadPelican2 1 1