Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday called on President Barack Obama to disavow U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for describing the state’s voter ID law as a “poll tax.”
“Perhaps while the President is visiting Texas, he can take a break from big-dollar fundraisers to disavow his Attorney General’s offensive and incendiary comments regarding our common-sense voter identification law,” the Republican governor said in a statement. “In labeling the Texas voter ID law as a ‘poll tax,’ Eric Holder purposefully used language designed to inflame passions and incite racial tension. It was not only inappropriate, but simply incorrect on its face.”
At the 103rd convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) last week, Holder compared voter ID laws like the one in Texas to “poll taxes” that were outlawed by the 24th Amendment. The Justice Department has said that a disproportionate number of the 1.5 million Texas who do not have the proper ID are black or Hispanic, but lawyers for the state of Texas argued that those figures were inflated.
“Under the proposed law, concealed handgun licenses would be acceptable forms of photo ID, but student IDs would not,” the attorney general pointed out. “Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them. And some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them.”
“We call those poll taxes,” Holder added.
Republicans across the country have pushed for stricter voting regulations, such as voter ID laws, to protect against alleged voter fraud. More than 30 states have changed voter laws since 2008, including requiring voter identification cards, eliminating same-day registration on voting day, prohibiting ex-felons from ballot access, restricting early voting and requiring proof of citizenship.
The Texas Legislature enacted the voter ID law in 2011, requiring voters to show a government-issued photo identification in order to vote at a polling place.
“The president should apologize for Holder’s imprudent remarks and for his insulting lawsuit against the people of Texas,” Perry concluded.