Congressional Leaders Speak Out Against Voter ID Laws at Press Conference on the Hill
Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH) held a press conference on Capitol Hill today in opposition to the voter ID laws sweeping states across the country. The event featured statements from Reverend Jesse Jackson, the ACLU, the National Action Network, and other civil rights leaders, along with a host of congressional representatives.
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Rep. Corinne Brown (D-FL), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) were among the leaders who spoke out in strong opposition to photo ID requirements at the polls, emphasizing the laws’ disproportionate effect on the elderly, students, low-income communities, and people of color. This week, Rep. Fudge and twenty congressional representatives signed on to a letter addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting that the Department of Justice investigate the constitutionality of voter ID requirements, which could possibly violate the Voter Rights Act of 1965. As Campus Progress previously reported, on June 29 Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO) circulated a similar letter to AG Holder which was signed by 15 Senators.
Rep. Gwen Moore challenged the most common argument presented by voter ID proponents - that presenting identification at the polls is a logical request in a society that requires ID to purchase health care, to board a plane, or to do other ordinary tasks.
“You want to know something?” asked Moore. “Getting a video from Blockbuster is not a constitutional right. Getting liquor from the liquor store is not a constitutional right. Right now, the bar ought to be extremely high to disenfranchise people, and we are calling on the Justice Department to intervene and to prevent this from happening.”
Moore’s own state of Wisconsin has one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country, with communities of color drastically affected by the new ID requirements. Moore mentioned the troubling statistic that 55% of African American males and 49% of African American women in Wisconsin lack the identification needed to vote. Even more staggering: among African Americans aged 18 to 24, 78% of males and 66% of females lack a valid ID.
And yet, despite the urgency of the issue, coverage of the press conference was light. Rep. Hank Johnson asked major representatives from the press – CNN, NBC, etc. – to identify themselves in his opening statement. None were present.
“I guess everybody is out covering the story about some nude pictures on the internet or Facebook, even Casey Anthony’s case,” said Johnson. “What we’re talking about here is a very fundamental right that is in jeopardy.”
Check out video from the press conference below.
Rep. Gwen Moore (who recently spoke at #CPNC11):
Sandra Khalifa is an intern with Campus Progress.