Current Weather
The Spy FM

The Fight Over Voter ID Laws Goes To The United Nations

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
March 9, 2012

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People announced it will appear before the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in Geneva next week to seek support for its fight against voter identification laws enacted in U.S. states.

The civil rights organization says the laws are among several measures adopted by some states that violate the human and civil rights of minority voters by suppressing their participation in elections.

The NAACP and other groups also are fighting other election changes enacted by states, such as restrictions placed on third-party groups that register new voters and the reduction of early voting periods. Both measures traditionally have helped increase minority voter turnout.

The United Nations has no authority over American states, of course. And the international organization has often been pilloried by U.S. conservatives concerned about American deference to other nations.

But the NAACP is hoping to exert international pressure on states in the same way it did during the civil rights movement of the 1940s and 1950s, when the NAACP sought the U.N.’s support in combating Jim Crow laws and lynchings in the South.

“The power of the U.N. on state governments historically is to shame them and to put pressure on the U.S. government to bring them into line with global standards, best practices for democracy,” NAACP President Benjamin Jealous told reporters Thursday. “There are plenty of examples — segregation of the U.S. to apartheid in South Africa to the death penalty here in the U.S. — of global outrage having an impact.”

Laws requiring people to present government-issued photo IDs at the polls have become hotly debated this election year because many of them have been enacted in presidential battleground states. A legal challenge to the South Carolina law could find its way to the Supreme Court.

Nine states passed strict voter identification laws last year. Roughly 31 states now require voters to show some form of identification at the polls. Fifteen of them require photo IDs.

Supporters, mainly Republicans, claim voter ID laws prevent election fraud. But most state election officials say fraud is rare if it occurs at all, as most independent analyses have shown.

The absence of fraud cases fuels the accusations of opponents, mostly Democrats and civil rights groups, who say the laws are politically motivated. They note that minority voters tend to favor Democratic candidates.

Pennsylvania, always an important battleground, could be next to adopt a law. The state Senate passed a voter ID bill on Wednesday and the House is expected to approve it. President Obama won Pennsylvania in 2008, but the state has since shifted toward the right under Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

Last month, South Carolina filed a federal lawsuit to overturn a Justice Department decision blocking the state’s new photo ID requirement. South Carolina disputes the Justice Department’s finding that the law would create unlawful barriers for minority voters, who are more likely than whites to lack the required government-issued identification.

The Justice Department also has questioned Texas’ new voter ID law, prompting the state to ask a federal court in Washington for clearance to enact the law. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

Listen Live Now!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center