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 as a human rights violation.
Attorney General Eric Holder is invoking Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) as giving him the power to block Texas' 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 VRA was designed to allow DOJ to have oversight of southern states that had been characterized by widespread voter suppression half a century ago, a move the Supreme Court upheld in 1966 as being authorized by the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution only due to the extraordinary racial tensions at the time, but that would not be constitutional once American society 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 two of those 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. (We've not seen the NAACP make allegations of widespread vote suppression of Asian-Americans or Indian-Americans, but evidently that doesn't stop them from presuming to speak as the global representative of anyone whose skin is of a darker hue.)
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 oppressive 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 those 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 instead the Obama-Holder Justice Department has a different philosophy of voting rights and our Constitution, and their allies have gone to notorious violators of human rights and the democratic process in a transparent political bid 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.