17 November 2005


Criticism of Voting Law Was Overruled
Justice Dept. Backed Georgia Measure Despite Fears of Discrimination

A team of Justice Department lawyers and analysts who reviewed a Georgia voter-identification law recommended rejecting it because it was likely to discriminate against black voters, but they were overruled the next day by higher-ranking officials at Justice, according to department documents.

The Justice Department has characterized the "pre-clearance" of the controversial Georgia voter-identification program as a joint decision by career and political appointees in the Civil Rights Division. Republican proponents in Georgia have cited federal approval of the program as evidence that it would not discriminate against African Americans and other minorities.

Yup. Cause the Federal government has never endorsed any such practice that might limit or restrict the voting abilities of certain groups in this country.

But an Aug. 25 staff memo obtained by The Washington Post recommended blocking the program because Georgia failed to show that the measure would not dilute the votes of minority residents, as required under the Voting Rights Act.

The memo, endorsed by four of the team's five members, also said the state had provided flawed and incomplete data. The team found significant evidence that the plan would be "retrogressive," meaning that it would reduce blacks' access to the polls.

A day later, on Aug. 26, the chief of the department's voting rights section, John Tanner, told Georgia officials that the program could go forward. "The Attorney General does not interpose any objection to the specified changes," he said in a letter to them....
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The article cites the measures as a way to counter voter fraud, but the sources cited in the article present conflicting information as to whether or not the required IDs are carried equally by all groups of constituents. If not, should part of the measure be to ensure that everyone has the proper card? Will a person that hasn't gone to the MVA to get a license shell out twenty bucks for a special ID so they can vote? Twenty bucks can be a lot of money depending on your situation.

The article also states: "According to the Aug. 25 memo from the Justice review team, Georgia lawmakers and state officials made little effort to research the possible racial impact of the proposed program." In addition, the US census bureau reportedly states that in Georgia minorities are less likely than whites to have the required identification; however, Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella defended approval with the assertion "that the state's African-American citizens are, if anything, slightly more likely than white citizens to possess one of the necessary forms of identification."

Is it just me, or do you think the current administration is just using these lame duck years to see just how badly they can piss people off?

State Rep. Tyrone L. Brooks Sr., a Democrat and president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, said he was not surprised by the Justice Department's position in the case.

"Some of my colleagues told me early on that, because of politics in the Bush administration, no matter what the staff recommendation was, this would be approved by the attorney general," Brooks said. "It's disappointing that the staff recommendation was not accepted, because that has been the norm since 1965."

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