by Ayvaunn Penn, Your Black World
The president of the NAACP, Benjamin Jealous, does not support the new photo ID requirements being enacted by state governments. According to Reuters, he “compare[s] photo ID laws to poll taxes and other past restrictions — since struck down by the courts — designed to keep blacks from voting in the segregated Deep South. And he said the latest measures were part of a racial backlash against the 2008 election of President Barack Obama.” At the 102nd annual NAACP convention Jealous specifically stated, “Our voting rights are under attack because a few years ago, we had a great breakthrough in this country…We broke the color line at the White House.” Jealous says that the NAACP plans on educating minorities and the economically disadvantaged in efforts to prevent them from being denied the right to vote.
The photo ID laws are primarily supported by Republican legislators and governors, but they say their goal is to simply prevent election fraud. They add that the photo ID law is no different than photo ID requirements for cashing checks and other similar transactions.
Reuters reports that “Jealous’ comments were dismissed as preposterous by Hans von Spakovsky, a former Federal Election Commission member and a senior legal fellow for the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, who said they showed a ‘complete ignorance of the voting process.'” Sparkovsky added, “Jim Crow laws weren’t just about voting. They were about impeding public accommodations and public transportation. Yet, you cannot check into a hotel anywhere in America without a photo ID. You cannot get on any airplane without a photo ID, and I don’t hear the NAACP claiming those requirements are somehow Jim Crow.”
Whereas Spakovsky makes a legitimate point, Jealous maintains that the photo ID law in the state of Wisconsin would prevent approximately half of the black and Latino population from voting due to lack of valid state-issued IDs. Jealous says, “Simply put, people who are too poor to own a car don’t tend to have a driver’s license,” and will not be able to vote. According to Reuters, Jealous also cites that “an Arizona law requiring photo IDs to be attached to voter registration applications had [already] eliminated 40,000 voters from the rolls.”
Ayvaunn Penn is a spoken word artist and an award winning writer completing her degree in English and philosophy. For more of her witty-word works click here. To have your original poetry featured by Ms. Penn on Your Black Poets, click here.