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Is The Voting Rights Act Under Assault?

Updated: Friday, April 11 2014, 06:53 PM CDT

This week's civil rights summits put the spotlight on high profile reversals to parts of President Lyndon Johnson's landmark legislation.

Advocates called for an easy, accessible, and cheap form of voter identification, but that has plenty of critics.

"Now I'm holding this social security card with my picture on it," said former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young.

That line from Andrew Young sparked a debate about creating a form of national ID.

"You need a government issued ID, and the Social Security Administration could do it for nine cents apiece," said Young.

The former ambassador to the United Nations made the remarks at the Civil Rights Summit.

While not as strong his comments were quickly echoed by President Bill Clinton.

"I agree with Andy Young's suggestion," said Clinton. "It would be a good thing. Let's just put them on everyone's social security card and give someone something else to argue about."

Just before saying that Clinton mentioned there are new barriers to make it harder to vote.

At the time both were addressing Lyndon B. Johnson's civil rights policies and last year's landmark Supreme Court decision gutting a portion of the voting rights act.

"One of the most radical departures from established legal decision making in my lifetime," said Clinton. "The supreme court threw it out or at least threw a very important provision of it out."

But could a picture on a social security card work as a valid identification, and would it ease concerns about voter identification laws passed by many states?

"I think it's interesting, but at the same time let's face it there's a lot of opposition," said Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder. "Some folks don't like the concept of a national ID."

Just last year Kentucky Senator Rand Paul introduced an amendment prohibiting the issuance of a national identification card system.

On his website it read, "A National ID card violates our right to privacy by helping to consolidate data and facilitate the government in the tracking of individuals. President Ronald Reagan opposed this idea, as did President Bill Clinton. They believed, as I do, that American citizens should not be forced to carry around a National Identification Card as a condition of citizenship, because the card offends any reasonable basic concept of freedom."

For Linder it's something worth debating, but he did cite worries of identity theft among other things.
"I think we need to stick to the Voting Rights Act in its parameters, that is if folks are qualified to vote let them vote," said Linder.

By Adam Racusin

Is The Voting Rights Act Under Assault?


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