Clyburn to GOP: Drop '21st century poll taxes'

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

House Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., while accusing Republicans of "manufactur[ing] crises" that contributed to congressional gridlock, disparaged voter identification laws advocated by Republicans around the country as "21st century poll taxes," and not unlike the Jim Crow laws used to prevent black Americans from voting.

"I think it's time for us to get rid of these 21st century poll taxes, these [inaudible] devices, such as were used back in the 19th century to deny people participation in our election process," Clyburn said today during a press briefing. "I think there's something wrong with saying to a student that you can use your student id [to] go into a bank and transact any business that you care to transact, yet you cannot use that [as a] voter ID to cast your vote at the polls."

Clyburn observed that voter identification laws are being implemented around the country "with my state being the marquee [state] in that process." His equation of voter ID laws with Jim Crow poll taxes is nothing new for South Carolina Democrats. The state Democratic party chair put voter ID laws in the genealogy of "poll tax[es], literacy tests - an old South Carolina tradition" during a recent MSNBC interview. He also described the voter ID laws as "electoral genocide."

The Democratic National Committee today affirmed Clyburn's implication of Jim Crow-style policies in the voter ID movement, suggesting that voter ID laws would make voting even more difficult, for some people, than the Jim Crow laws.

"Whether or not you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, I'm hopeful that all of us would do it in the greatest of spirit and come back here the first of the year and do the people's business in a transparent way," Clyburn said, concluding his comments on the voter ID laws.

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