Jimmy Carter's Change of Heart


ACRU Staff


October 15, 2013

This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published October 13 on The Washington Times website.

With the media giving 24/7 coverage to the federal shutdown and debt-ceiling standoff, other important news is slipping under the radar.

For instance, Democrats are still vigorously waging a holy war on state voter-ID laws. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who is leading the charge, contends that such laws are designed solely to “suppress” minority votes.

He’s getting help from others who know this is false but politically advantageous. On Aug. 28, former President Jimmy Carter told a crowd commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington: “I believe we all know how Dr. King would have reacted to the new I.D. requirements to exclude certain voters, especially African-Americans.”

Say what?

First, King was all about fairness, so he presumably would have supported voter-ID laws, since everyone is treated equally, and these laws protect everyone’s vote.

Second, Mr. Carter co-chaired the Commission on Federal Election Reform, whose 2005 report, “Building Confidence in U.S. Elections,” strongly recommended voter-ID laws and other reforms to ensure election integrity.

That was before Democrats captured both houses of Congress in 2006 and then the White House in 2008. Many Democrats who had supported voter-ID laws suddenly lost interest. It was also before the Tea Party revolt put a scare into the business-as-usual crowd on Capitol Hill in 2010.

Here’s a sample of what the bipartisan election commission, also co-chaired by former Reagan and H.W. Bush White House Chief of Staff James A. Baker III, suggested.

“We are recommending a photo-ID system for voters designed to increase the registration with a more affirmative and aggressive role for states in finding new voters and providing free IDs for those without driver’s licenses.”

The commission also urged states to clean up their registrations, which is required under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, better known as “Motor Voter.”

“A complete, accurate and current voter roll is essential to ensure that every eligible citizen who wants to vote can do so. … Invalid voter files, which contain ineligible, duplicate, fictional, or deceased voters are an invitation to fraud.”

Mr. Holder either didn’t read the report or chooses to ignore it, because he has loosed his attorneys on several states, including South Carolina and Texas last year, for doing exactly what the Carter-Baker commission recommended.

In June 2012, the Justice Department also sued Florida for purging its rolls of noncitizens. The suit was spearheaded by Thomas E. Perez, the radical assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, who went on to become secretary of labor.

In turn, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner sued the Department of Homeland Security for denying access to a database that would allow verification of the citizenship of registered voters. The Department relented.

A year later, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on June 25 overturning much of the Voting Rights Act, Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott announced that the state would resume its cleanup of the voter rolls. Liberal gnashing of teeth has been nonstop since.

On Sept. 30, the Justice Department sued North Carolina over its new voter-ID law and is threatening to sue even more states. One might be forgiven for concluding that the Obama administration is utterly hostile to the idea of clean elections.

The Carter-Baker report is well worth a read. It is chockfull of ways to discourage vote fraud and to expand access. In theory, that should please liberals as well as conservatives. In fact, it should please everyone but vote fraudsters and their enablers.

Here are some more nuggets:

“Voter identification can enhance ballot integrity without raising barriers to voting. Voters in nearly 100 democracies use a photo-identification card without fear of or infringement on their rights.”

You have to wonder whether officials in those nations are constantly accused of bigotry in the most lurid terms. Probably not. That practice seems to be unique to Democrats in America.

The Carter/Baker report also says: “In the old days and in small towns where everyone knows each other, voters did not need to identify themselves. But in the United States, where 40 million people move each year, and in urban areas were some people do not even know the people living in their own apartment building, let alone their precinct, some form of identification is needed.”

Now for the coup de grace:

“The electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter or detect fraud or to confirm the identity of voters. Photo IDs currently are needed to board a plane, enter federal buildings, and cash a check. Voting is equally important.”

You mean it’s not hateful or racist to require an ID for voting, as is done for dozens of other everyday transactions? Who would have thought that Mr. Carter, as recently as 2005, was a secret bigot, out to “suppress” minority turnout?



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