Almost right out of the starting gate, the Obama administration has fought tooth and nail to prevent states from enacting voter ID laws, yet on Thursday it supports similar laws that were enacted by a developing nation.
While the first family enjoys its combination summer vacation and African goodwill tour, the White House press secretary issued Thursday a “Fact Sheet: U.S. Support for Strengthening Democratic Institutions, Rule of Law, and Human Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa,” according to The Weekly Standard’s Jeryl Bier.
The fact sheet applauded Kenya’s $53 million effort to assist its youth in securing the national ID cards required to register to vote.
Across sub-Saharan Africa, the United States supports efforts to ensure civil society organizations and independent media can organize, advocate, and raise awareness with governments and the private sector to improve political processes, transparency, and government performance. Examples include:
• In Kenya, the$53 million Yes Youth Can program empowers nearly one million Kenyan youth to use their voices for advocacy in national and local policy-making, while also creating economic opportunities. In advance of Kenya’s March 2013 general elections, Yes Youth Can’s “My ID My Life” campaign helped 500,000 youth obtain National identification cards, a prerequisite to voter registration, and carried out a successful nationwide campaign with Kenyan civic organizations to elicit peace pledges from all presidential aspirants.
But if nothing else, when it comes to our own states’ laws, this administration has been consistent, calling them restrictive, racially divisive, a modern-day poll tax and even a return to Jim Crow legislation.
Referring to the Texas voter ID law, White House Chief spokesman Jay Carney noted in August that “this administration believes it should be easier for eligible citizens to vote — to register and vote. We should not be imposing unnecessary obstacles or barriers to voter participation.”
Attorney General Eric Holder blocked both South Carolina’s and Texas’ voter ID laws, using the Justice Department’s power under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act,a provision the U.S. Supreme Court threw out Tuesday.
South Carolina’s law was modeled after Indiana’s, which the high court found constitutional in 2008. The only distinguishing characteristic Holder could note was that South Carolina’s law was subject to DOJ review while Indiana was not, according to The Daily Caller.
Speaking to the Houston NAACP, Holder likened voter ID laws to “poll taxes” and vowed he would “not allow political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right,” according to The Huffington Post.
The ever-opinionated Florida congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz cranked up the vitriol further when she said, “Now you have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws.”
She later apologized. Later still, her selective amnesia kicked in, and she denied having ever saying it, according to Politico.
The DOJ’s effort’s to restrict states from enacting voter ID laws may have given President Obama’s re-election bid a boost. With the Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday, maybe the GOP will have, as the president is fond of saying, “a fair shot” at the polls in 2014.