My Wednesday column was a follow-up on Voter ID and its roots in the Jim Crow era poll tax:
By way of a follow-up to my column yesterday about the Republican effort to disenfranchise millions of poor, elderly and working class Americans by passing Voter ID laws that require a government-issued photo ID in order to vote, I'd like to cover a well-worn Republican political tactic that's suddenly been tossed into the ID mix by everyone's favorite nitwit, Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Rewind to last week. I'm not sure how I missed this, but Attorney General Eric Holder rightfully described Voter ID laws as a poll tax -- a primary feature of the century-long Jim Crow era in which white lawmakers disenfranchised black voters by passing laws that made it extraordinarily difficult for them to vote and, ultimately, to be harassed, arrested and enslaved (see Douglas Blackmon's extraordinary Slavery By Another Name) in the white South.
Specifically, Holder referred to laws that forced voters to pay a fee to vote, thus making it difficult for low-income black voters to cast a ballot. In Louisiana, for example, only one-half of one percent of the black population was actually allowed to vote in 1910 due to Jim Crow laws. Jefferson Parish in Louisiana charged a fee of $1 to vote, the equivalent of around $18 today. Now, if you're dirt poor and you're faced with a choice between feeding your kids for a week and voting in a comparatively trivial election, which would you choose? Clearly, you stay home on Election Day. Mission accomplished.
Likewise, and as I argued yesterday, Voter ID laws force potential registered voters to pay a fee to attain a photo ID. Continue reading here...