The far left is making an unprecedented two-track move to derail states’ efforts to protect the integrity of the ballot box for this November’s elections. While the Department of Justice (DOJ) is blocking state efforts, liberal activists are taking this issue to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Attorney General Eric Holder is invoking Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). He claims it gives him the power to block Texas’s voter ID law, which simply requires that voters show that they are who they say they are before they cast a vote to influence an election outcome. This is the same argument Holder made to block South Carolina’s voter ID law, a move that has landed him in federal court.
Section 5 of the VRA was designed to give the DOJ oversight of southern states where there was widespread voter suppression a half century ago. The Supreme Court upheld the law in 1966, ruling that it was authorized by the Fifteenth Amendment, but only because of the extraordinary racial tensions at the time. The court noted that Section 5 would not be constitutional once American society had progressed beyond such struggles.
(In fact, a lawsuit is currently pending before the D.C. Circuit federal appeals court challenging the constitutionality of Section 5. So there’s a good chance that provision will no longer be on the books two years from now.)
In 2008 the Supreme Court upheld an Indiana voter ID law that is even more robust than the statutes from Texas and South Carolina. But Indiana is not subject to VRA Section 5, so Holder claims the law allows him to block those two states, even though he knows he can’t touch the third.
But while these domestic fights are underway, the NAACP is taking the issue of voter ID laws to the United Nations Human Rights Council (the successor to the Human Rights Commission), claiming that such ballot-box integrity measures violate the human rights of racial minorities under international law.
So they go to the United Nations. Specifically, to a body tasked with protecting human rights. Just to be clear, the nations comprising this supposed champion of human rights include dictatorial and authoritarian regimes like China, Cuba and Russia.
Let’s give the NAACP credit; they went to the undisputed experts on this subject. They’ve taken this issue of ballot-box integrity to nations that know all about voter fraud and rigging elections, because they do it all the time. Maybe these nations could even provide pointers, as Vladimir Putin’s “election” makes crystal clear that some of these nations have written the book when it comes to subverting the democratic process.
As we’ve written for Yale Law & Policy Review, the right to vote includes the right not to have your vote diluted by fraudulent votes. And as citizens, each of us has a duty to comply with reasonable measures to ensure that our elections are free and fair. In that vein, even liberal Justice John Paul Stevens agreed with moderate and conservative Supreme Court justices that voter ID laws are constitutional.
But the Obama-Holder Justice Department has a different view of voting rights, and their allies have gone to notorious violators of human rights and the democratic process in a transparent effort to discredit political opposition as this administration pursues a disturbingly divisive political agenda going into the 2012 election.
Ken Blackwell served as Ohio secretary of state and the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Ken Klukowski is a fellow with the American Civil Rights Union and is on faculty at Liberty University School of Law.