Obama Ally Speaks Out For Tougher Voter ID Laws
Former Alabama Rep. Artur Davis, an African-American Democrat who was one of President Obama's close allies in Congress, wrote an op-ed in his hometown paper acknowledging voter fraud in his home state - and supporting voter-identification laws to crack down on such abuses.
"When I was a congressman, I took the path of least resistance on this subject for an African American politician. Without any evidence to back it up, I lapsed into the rhetoric of various partisans and activists who contend that requiring photo identification to vote is a suppression tactic aimed at thwarting black voter participation," Davis wrote in the Montgomery Advertiser.
"The truth is that the most aggressive contemporary voter suppression in the African American community, at least in Alabama, is the wholesale manufacture of ballots, at the polls and absentee, in parts of the Black Belt."
Davis is one of the very few Democrats to support the politically-charged issue of requiring stricter photo identification for voters before they can cast a ballot. Democrats have equated many of the laws being implemented or debated as akin to voter suppression - a charge that, in the South, evokes painful memories of Jim Crow-era disenfranchisement of blacks.
Several states have already passed laws requiring voter ID, including Davis' home state of Alabama, Wisconsin, South Carolina and Texas.
Davis' connections to Obama -- and his background as one of the few Democrats to break the party line on voter ID -- make his comments all the more notable.
The debate over voter identification laws are heating up in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election. Democrats are depending on high turnout among minorities, especially in a handful of battleground states, and oppose measures that they claim would make it harder for voters to obtain a state-issued photo identification.
"This idea that there is some massive class of African-Americans who don't have conventional IDs -- I don't think that's accurate. I think that actually in some cases can be a little bit patronizing," Davis told Hotline On Call. "I am certainly tired of seeing the issue demagogued and I am tired of seeing the allegation made that anybody who wants more transparency in voting is trying to keep African-Americans from voting."