Attorney General Eric Holder is sharply criticizing the expansion of laws that would require photo identification to vote, blasting them as “unnecessary” and arguing that proponents of the provisions are citing a voter fraud problem that “does not exist” in America.
In an interview with NBC News’ Pete Williams this week, Holder continued his aggressive advocacy against the laws, which are already on the books in more than 15 states, and are being considered by numerous others. Using its power under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Justice Department has invalidated laws in South Carolina and Texas that would mandate voters present photo identification to vote.
“These laws are unnecessary,” he told Williams.
Responding to the view help by many Republicans, who liken requiring photo identification to vote to the requirement of such identification to board an airplane, Holder dismissed the comparison, arguing voting is a separate matter.
“We talk about the need for ID to do a variety of things that are privileges,” he said, referring to riding an airplane. “We are talking now about a constitutional right, something that is a fundamental right.”
In rejecting laws in South Carolina and Texas, the Justice Department argued the laws in those states would disproportionately affect minorities, who were less likely to have photo identification, particularly driver’s licenses.
The laws have emerged as a highly-divisive issue. Republicans, the driving force in seven of the eight states that adopted voter ID laws, strongly defended them in 2011 as logical pieces of legislation that would make sure nothing improper affects elections.