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Holder Defends Department’s Challenges to Voter ID Laws
Posted By Matthew Volkov On June 11, 2012 @ 1:19 pm In News | Comments Disabled
Attorney General Eric Holder told the League of Women Voters on Monday that he knows what it feels like to have critics “mischaracterize” efforts in the ongoing voting rights debate.
“Believe me, I know how you feel,” he told the group , which has a history of pushing to expand voting rights, at an event in Washington D.C. on Monday. ”But the clear and simple fact is that this work never has been – and never should be – about politics or partisan maneuvering. This work is about honoring our most basic principles – of inclusion and opportunity, of equal treatment and fair representation.”
The Justice Department’s work to enforce the Voting Rights Act is about fulfilling the “most essential” and “most sacred” obligations of American citizenship, Holder said.
Two weeks ago, the department’s Voting Section chief T. Christian Herron told Florida they must have federal approval for any changes to voting procedures because five counties with a history of discrimination are still subject to the laws outlined in the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Herron also added that removing voters from rolls isn’t legal within 90 days of an election. Florida is scheduled to hold a primary election on August 14.
Holder defended the Justice Department, saying it’s order that Florida stop the plan to purge its voter list was not a political ploy.
In his speech to the League of Women Voters, Holder said the Justice Department is “actively” and “aggressively” enforcing the Motor Voter Law as well. Under the law, removing voters from rolls isn’t legal within 90 days of a federal election.
The department has been criticized for failing to supply Florida with lists necessary to purge its voter lists. At a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing last week Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) criticized the department’s management of Florida’s attempts to purge its voter rolls.
“The state of Florida has attempted to obtain this database for 9 months so it could do its things prior to the 90-day shut-off in the national voter registration law,” the lawmaker said.
He continued: “The Department of Homeland Security hasn’t given Florida the means to start the [voter purge] process. Another agency of the government that you’re supposed to be advising as Attorney General has prevented the state of Florida from doing this.”
“This is probably due process times three or four, maybe even five times,” he said.
The Attorney General defended the department’s actions at the oversight hearing, saying “the database that Florida is requesting is not necessarily the answer to these problems. The database does not contain on its rolls or within that database people born in the United States. That database will therefore be flawed and could result in the exclusion of people from voting who are native-born Americans.”
The Justice Department has challenged voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina because “those laws disproportionately and adversely affect the rights of minority voters,” he told the League of Women Voters on Monday.
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