President Obama admitted to the nation on Tuesday that controversial voter ID laws do not suppress the minority vote. The president, speaking in a radio interview, said that the primary reason that minority voters stay away from the polls was apathy.
Speaking on “Keeping It Real” with Al Sharpton, President Obama admitted, “Most of these laws are not preventing the overwhelming majority of folks who don’t vote from voting. Most people do have an ID. Most people do have a driver’s license. Most people can get to the polls. It may not be as convenient; it may be a little more difficult. There may be a few people who are impeded.”
The Justice Department, led by Obama appointee Eric Holder, had argued precisely the opposite. In challenges to numerous state voter ID laws, the government had argued that the laws were unfair to minority voters and liberals charged that they were an attempt to suppress black voters, who traditionally support Democrats.
Obama’s admission comes in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the new Texas voter ID law for this year’s midterm elections. In addition to a battle for control of the U.S. Senate, the election in Texas features a heated gubernatorial race between Republican Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis, a rising star of the Democratic Party.
In the same interview, Obama answered Sharpton’s query about people who were worried about the reliability of vulnerable Democrats. “Here’s the bottom line,” Obama said, “We’ve got a tough map. A lot of the states that are contested this time are states that I didn’t win. So some of the candidates there, it’s difficult for them to have me in the state because the Republicans will use that to try to fan Republican turnout. The bottom line though is these are all folks who vote with me, they have supported my agenda in Congress….” The president continued, “They are the right side of minimum wage, they are on the right side of fair pay, they are on the right side of rebuilding our infrastructure, they are on the right side of early childhood education. So this isn’t about my feelings being hurt. These are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me and I tell them, you do what you need to win….”
Voter ID laws have generally been upheld by the Supreme Court. According to Ballotpedia, 19 states, including Georgia, now have laws on the books requiring voters to present photo identification.