By Deneen Borelli
The Reverend Jesse Jackson and other establishment civil rights leaders scolded South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley earlier this year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day no less, for her state’s voter identification law. They reminded her that her Indian ancestry (Gov. Haley’s parents are from Amritsar in India’s Punjab Province) makes her a minority.
NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, a hostile opponent of ballot security measures, said that — by participating in King Day observances — Governor Haley is “willing to deify the dreamer and desecrate the dream.”
A more solemn Jackson intoned: “She couldn’t vote before 1965, just as I couldn’t.”
Ignoring the huge advances made in equality over the past five decades, including the election of America’s first black president, critics of voter ID laws equate obtaining a photo ID with past roadblocks such as poll taxes and literacy tests that deprived blacks from exercising their voting rights.
Here’s a fact. Nikki Haley couldn’t vote until 1990 because she was born in 1972. There were no more racial barriers to her voting then and none exist today.
But Governor Haley’s votes may have been stolen, including the one she cast for herself for governor in the state’s Republican primary in 2010.
On January 19, two days before the 2012 South Carolina primary, the state attorney general, Alan Wilson informed the Justice Department that a study of the Department of Motor Vehicles records and voting records indicates that 953 votes were cast on behalf of dead people in past South Carolina elections.
In essence, the votes of Governor Haley and hundreds of other legal voters may have been cancelled out by the actions of those voting illegally in the names of the deceased.
Wilson’s report to the U.S. Attorney General’s office came about because South Carolina’s new law to require government-issued photo identification at polling places was challenged by the Obama administration.
Under the terms of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, states with questionable civil rights reputations 45 years ago — such as South Carolina — cannot amend voting laws without federal approval. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said non-white voters in South Carolina are “significantly burdened” by requiring photo ID.
Such challenges cast a chilling shadow over our election process as there is no debate that voter fraud exists and is easy to perpetuate.
During the 2012 New Hampshire Republican primary, Project Veritas sent people into polling places with the names of the recently deceased. They were able to easily obtain access to ballots and only failed in their efforts when the election worker recognized the name of one of the dead people on their list. A bill requiring a photo ID to vote was passed in the New Hampshire legislature last year, but Governor John Lynch vetoed it.
It doesn’t end in New Hampshire.
Lessadolla Sowers, a former executive committee member of the Tunica County, Mississippi NAACP chapter, is currently serving a five-year prison term for ten counts of ballot fraud.
Andrea Pringle, the deputy chief of staff to Washington, D.C. mayor Vincent Gray, resigned in 2011 after it was discovered she voted in the 2010 D.C. city primary election despite living in Maryland.
Critics of voter ID laws say it is difficult for some to apply for valid ID. They cannot afford the time, money or effort.
It’s perplexing how so many groups complaining about voter ID laws have the funds to register voters, educate voters and transport voters to the polls, but never budget anything to rectify ID problems or ask if people have all that’s required of them on Election Day.
Georgia offers a free voter ID. So does Indiana, where voter ID was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008.
Voting is a sacred honor. Voter ID protects that honor from being sullied by those seeking unwarranted power.
Deneen Borelli is a fellow with the Project 21 black leadership network.