AG Merrick Garland Calls Voter ID Laws 'Unnecessary'

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Mar 05, 2024 - 09:20 PM

Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Attorney General Merrick Garland on March 3 declared that efforts by states to implement voter ID laws are “unnecessary” and “burdensome,” drawing the ire of Republicans.

Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington on Sept. 20, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

While speaking at a church Selma, Alabama, the attorney general was commemorating the 59th anniversary of the targeting of demonstrators by Selma police during an early civil rights protest.

He said that the right to vote “is still under attack,” though he provided little evidence in his speech for how requiring identification would be an assault on voting rights.

There are many things that are open to debate in America,” Mr. Garland stated. “One thing that must not be open for debate is the right of all eligible citizens to vote and to have their vote counted.

The attorney general said the Department of Justice is “fighting back” against states that have passed bills requiring identification that would prove such eligibility to cast ballots.

“One of the first things I did when I came into office was to double the size of the voting section of the civil rights division,” Mr. Garland said. “That is why we are challenging efforts by states and jurisdictions to implement discriminatory, burdensome, and unnecessary restrictions on access to the ballot, including those related to mail-in voting, the use of drop boxes, and voter ID requirements.”

Those measures include practices and procedures that make voting more difficult; redistricting maps that disadvantage minorities; and changes in voting administration that diminish the authority of locally elected or nonpartisan election administrators,” he said. “Such measures threaten the foundation of our system of government.”

The attorney general also accused courts of issuing rulings that, according to him, imperil U.S. voting rights.

“Court decisions in recent years have drastically weakened the protections of the Voting Rights Act that marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge bled for 59 years ago,“ he said. ”And since those decisions, there has been a dramatic increase in legislative measures that make it harder for millions of eligible voters to vote and to elect the representatives of their choice.”

Mr. Garland’s comments, however, appear to be at odds with viewpoints held by the vast majority of Americans. Polls have shown that a significant majority of Americans back photo identification laws to cast votes, including a Gallup poll from late 2022 that found that eight in 10 Americans support them.

Significant majorities of Democrat, black, Latino, and low-income voters also support such laws and proposals, according to a Heritage Foundation article.

Voters across all demographics support voter ID laws in virtually every poll by almost 80 percent. This typically includes more than 60 percent of Democrats,” The Heritage Foundation wrote, adding that 64 percent of black voters, 77 percent of Hispanic voters, and 76 percent of low-income voters back voter ID laws.

Opponents of voter ID measures don’t object to the requirement that voters verify their identity when voting—which is already standard in every state—but rather the means used to verify them. They claim that a significant portion of U.S. voters don’t have a photo ID such as a driver’s license, state ID card, or passport.

New Voter ID Laws

Since 2020, at least 11 U.S. states have strengthened voter identification requirements.

Georgia requires any voter who lacks a driver’s license or state ID card to include in his or her absentee ballot application a photocopy of another government-issued ID. Previously, absentee voters’ identities were verified by signature matching, a policy that opponents have said is fraught with fraud.

Texas law permits voters to use a broader set of IDs when applying for and casting mail-in ballots. It automatically rejects them if the voter uses a different ID number from the one provided when registering to vote.

The National Conference of State Legislatures wrote that about 36 U.S. states require or request voters to provide some form of ID when they cast their ballots at the polls.

It added, “Fourteen states and Washington, D.C., do not require any documentation to vote at the polls.

Those states are Maine, Vermont, New York, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Minnesota, Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada, Hawaii, and Oregon, according to a map provided by the group.

States that have “strict” photo identification mandates, according to the group, are Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. States with “non-strict” photo identification rules are Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas.

Meanwhile, some states have “strict” standards for voter identification but don’t mandate photo identification. Those are North Dakota, Wyoming, and Arizona, according to the conference. And states with what it called “non-strict” laws that don’t require a photo ID are Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington state, and West Virginia.

Reuters contributed to this report.