Politics

Eric Holder’s uphill battle: Huge public support for voter ID

BY: Byron York August 15, 2012 | 12:00 am

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While the Obama Justice Department, led by Attorney General Eric Holder, uses its authority to block some state voter ID laws (Texas), and investigate others (Pennsylvania), a newly-released poll shows overwhelming public support for laws requiring voters to present identification before casting a ballot.  That support crosses party lines, racial lines, economic lines, educational lines, and just about every other line in the electorate at large.

In the survey, the Washington Post asked, “In your view, should voters in the United States be required to show official, government-issued photo identification — such as a driver’s license — when they cast ballots on election day, or shouldn’t they have to do this?”  Among all adults, 74 percent said voters should present ID, versus 23 percent who said they should not.  Among registered voters, the numbers were 75 percent to 23 percent.

When something has the support of 75 percent of the voters, plus the approval of the Supreme Court, which by a six-to-three vote in 2008 upheld Indiana’s voter ID law, one might think the Justice Department would give up trying to stop it.  So far, that’s not the case with Attorney General Holder.

The Post poll found support for voter ID extends far and wide.  Seventy-six percent of men support it, as do 73 percent of women.

Eighty-eight percent of Republicans support it.  Seventy-six percent of independents support it.  And 60 percent of Democrats — a solid majority of the president’s party — support it.

Seventy-eight percent of white people support it.  Sixty-five percent of black people support it.  Sixty-four percent of Hispanics support it.

Every age group supports it by more than 70 percent.

Every income group supports it by more than 70 percent.

Every educational group supports it by more than 70 percent — except those Americans who have gone to graduate school.  (They support it by 63 percent.)  Among those who have a high school degree or less — according to the Justice Department, the group that might not have a government-issued ID — support is at 76 percent.

All regions of the country support it, from 68 percent in the Northeast to 77 percent in the South.

The only group with whom voter ID has less than majority support is people who call themselves liberal Democrats.  Forty-eight percent of them support it, while 70 percent of people who call themselves moderate or conservative Democrats support it.  People who call themselves liberal or moderate Republicans support it by 80 percent, and people who call themselves conservative Republicans support it by 92 percent.

The Post also asked respondents whether they felt the supporters and opponents of Voter ID were acting out of genuine concern for fair elections or whether they were trying to gain some partisan advantage.  Respondents said they thought the laws’ opponents were acting more of out partisanship than supporters.

None of that deters Holder.  In a July speech to the NAACP in Texas, he likened voter ID laws to the unconstitutional voter suppression technique of poll taxes.  “Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them — and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them,” Holder said of the voter ID law in Texas, which the Justice Department has gone to court to stop.  “We call those poll taxes.”

Most Americans — in the public as well as on the Supreme Court — disagree.

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Byron York

Chief Political Correspondent



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