October 19, 2005
Jim Crow, alive and well in Georgia
For once, the New York Times editorial page gets it right. Although the question wasn’t exactly taxing:
Critics of Georgia's new voter-identification law, which forces many citizens to pay $20 or more for the documentation necessary to vote, have called it a modern-day poll tax, intended to keep blacks and poor people from voting. A federal judge supported these claims yesterday and blocked the law from taking effect.
… Under the new law, voters with driver's licenses were not inconvenienced. But it put up huge obstacles for voters without licenses, who are disproportionately poor and black. Most of them would have to get official state picture-identification cards and pay processing fees of $20 or more. Incredibly - beyond the cost imposed on such voters - there was not a single office in Atlanta where the identification cards were for sale.
Republicans claimed the law was intended to prevent fraud, but that was just a pretext. According to Georgia's secretary of state, Cathy Cox, in recent years there have been no documented cases of fraud through voter impersonation.
… In the civil rights era, Southern states had to be told again and again by federal courts not to try to stop their black citizens from voting. It is shameful that in 2005, Georgia needs to be told again.
Naturally at least one Republican state senator intends to appeal the ruling.
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