• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Holder Gets It Completely Wrong on Poll Taxes and Voter ID

    First he was withholding information from Congress. Now U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is giving misinformation to the public.

    In his July 10 speech to the NAACP, Holder claimed that the requirement that you obtain a free photo ID to vote is the same as a poll tax: “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.”

    The problem with that dubious statement is that it is wrong under the law. Perhaps that’s why the Justice Department has made no such claim in the federal lawsuits in which it is fighting the voter ID laws of Texas and South Carolina. And yet Holder continues to perpetuate the incendiary error to the public, knowing that the poll-tax assertion is a racially charged one that should not be used lightly.

    The 24th Amendment to the Constitution states that the right of citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged “by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.” The claim that the costs and time involved in obtaining a free photo ID card for voting is a poll tax was raised in the first lawsuits filed against the Georgia and Indiana voter ID laws back in 2006.

    Indiana’s law was upheld by the Supreme Court in Crawford v. Marion County (2008). In that case, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Indiana law was “not like a poll tax” at all. The Supreme Court agreed. In Common Cause of Georgia v. Billups (2006), the decision that upheld Georgia’s voter ID law that was affirmed by the Eleventh Circuit, a federal district court dismissed the poll tax claim as entirely inappropriate because the “imposition of tangential burdens” is not a poll tax and no different than the cost of time and transportation to register and vote.

    Even the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals—the most liberal appeals court in the country—did not buy the Holder poll tax claim when it reviewed Arizona’s voter ID law. In Gonzalez v. Arizona (2012), the Ninth Circuit held that even though “obtaining the free identification required under [Arizona law] may have a cost,” such immaterial costs are not a poll tax.

    Unless Holder is wholly ignorant of the civil rights law his department is sworn to uphold, he knows that his poll tax claim is wrong as a matter of law and has been flatly rejected by federal courts up to and including the Supreme Court. So why would he make such a claim, with such race-bating overtones, to the NAACP this summer?

    Attorneys general, because of their special and sensitive position, should concentrate on enforcing the law in an equal and fair manner, not use their office for crass political gain at the expense of the law. As Holder knows, lawyers—particularly government lawyers—have an absolute ethical obligation as officers of the court to draw to the court’s attention any authority that is contrary to the legal position they are asserting.

    When the U.S. Attorney General is talking about a subject as serious as election integrity and the laws of a sovereign state that should be accorded respect, he has a similar ethical obligation to the American public to not play fast and loose with the facts and the law and to make legal claims that are flatly untrue.

    Hans A. von Spakovsky is a Senior Legal Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and a former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department. He is the co-author (with John Fund) of Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk (Encounter Books, August 2012).

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    17 Responses to Holder Gets It Completely Wrong on Poll Taxes and Voter ID

    1. Esme Real-Lee says:

      This post is full of misdirection and misinformation. If it looks like crap and it smells like crap …

      • yeah-ok says:

        You must be referring to any and all comments made by Holder and hius cronies!

      • Greg says:

        So, by your very well-phrased comment, you are obviously a very learned student of the law. Please explain to those of us who merely reading the words of a Senior Legal Fellow (who apparently doesn't have the extensive law background of yourself), exactly where the the "misdirection and misinformation" in this article is. Please. Without specific examples to support your case, your words are simply dismissed as the rantings of yet another clueless ninny.

      • Don DeHoff says:

        Esme, when you make such serious comments, you need to cite specifics, otherwise it is just first degree "BS". I re-read the post and it appears to be concise, factual and on point. I suspect you are "one of them" and the law does not permit favorites. Ask "Google", for the meaning of "aiding and abetting".

    2. Bobbie says:

      Whoever supports this fiend is in the low self esteem class that will remain dependent on government if they continue to think they don't deserve better. He and the democrats lie through everything just to get a rise out of the crowd no matter what. Condescension, slander, belittlement, degradation. They play em all at a level of a government run college degree!

      In America people have equal rights! It's up to the PEOPLE TO ACCESS THOSE RIGHTS not up to the government or tax dollars to accommodate rides and acorn programs! If people want to vote they'll do what's required equally from all!

      What's Holder doing about voter/id fraud that disenfranchises voter and election integrity?
      Remove Holder! He speaks without truth just to build anger and vulnerability to which America(ns) do not need, want or warrant!

    3. KJinAZ says:

      The crimes against in our election process are clearly being supported by our criminal justice department. Eric Holder will be investigated for ALL OF HIS CRIMES, as soon as we can install a new leadership. I expect him to be jailed for many of the criminal acts he helped lead or contributed to. Nobody is above the law, even the head of the justice dept and the president.

    4. In my state, you MUST present a valid state issued ID to get welfare, food stamps, WIC or any government assistance. You MUST also present a valid Social Security card OR be prepared to sign up for one if you're elderly. ALSO, there is only ONE place in my county to get services and that is NEAR our county seat…..not IN, but near (it's about 6 miles away from the county courthouse, for instance). Now, there is ZERO public transportation in my county…..no taxi service, no bus system, nothing. SO, if you want welfare, you find a way to get to these places and get what you want. No different than VOTING. IF you want to vote LEGALLY, then you find a way to do so.

      That said, I just had to renew my driving license. I had to have certified copies of my birth certificate, and TWO proofs of residence (not a P.O. box) and my social security card (or check stubs/W2s showing my SSN). Women also had to present their marriage/divorce documents for each and every name change from their birth record to now…..the woman in front of me had to have FIVE sets since she was on marriage number 5. Yes, that can get expensive (she was over $100 for her documentation alone). HOWEVER, in my state, you have to have a state issued ID (follow the above rules for a driving license or state ID) to receive your welfare, so HOW is this an "extra" expense for VOTING?

      The answer is that it is NOT….it never has been. This is just a smoke screen that the non-self educated believe because they do not investigate all this on their own. If you don't believe me, sit in your local DHHR office parking lot and watch all the "identification" and documentation they TRULY bring into the office. It's a staggering amount what they all have readily available for something they WANT.

      ……do not pay any attention to the man behind the curtain….."The Wizard of Oz." (it was a political statement as well as a movie)

    5. Lloyd Scallan says:

      "Ethical obligation"? This Obama lackey? Has the author been living in a cave. Has he not understood
      just how "unethical" Holder is and has been? The only "obligation" Holder has is to his puppit master
      Obama.

    6. historianMI says:

      Lest we forget, Holder and Obama are from Chicago and things are done differently there……….

    7. Carol, AZ says:

      ….You got it wrong …Holder knows exactly what he's doing. You failed to connect the voter fraud cases talked about here, to the illegal arm of this rabid administration through ACORN. In this administration ACORN is Holder's strong-arm, paid for through Fed funds by us.Ongoing lawsuits being investigated, in the Justice Dept, by Judicial Watch, are too numerous to mention here for the lack of space. Holder and his snake nest of ACLU lawyers is a back story of horrors that here in AZ, we've dealt with for 3.5 years and still dealing with currently, with the ongoing case leveled against our Sheriff's Dept. by ATT General Holder, under orders from BO. Thank you, AZ Rep. Gosar for signing the growing petition to disbar ATT. General Holder. Thank You, Tom Fitton and staff from Judicial Watch, for your tireless work on Fast and Furious, refusing Holder, to "withhold evidence."
      Corruption on the highest level by EX order, with the triad partnership of, Dept of HLS, is a back story of corruption few can imagine. Good question Han, where is the ethical obligation of our court system?

    8. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Holder's comparing apples and oranges. As my high school Economics teacher, Mr. Decelle, told us, "You're
      comparing apples and oranges. You can't compare apples and oranges. You can only compare apples and apples."

    9. Kahr50 says:

      I have a great Idea – let's have these people who do not have ID's and are 'affedcted' by the Voter ID Laws testify in Holder's hearings….oops sorry they can't get through the door or the Courthouse to testify becasue they do not have valid photo ID's.!

    10. Jeanne Stotler says:

      If you enter ANY goverment building in Wash.,D.C. you must show ID, if you drive you must show ID to get a license, and if you live in the country with no public transportation, you drive or someone in your household does. As stated to get any public assistance you MUST how ID, so showing an ID to vote is not unreasonable and getting a picture I D at the DMV is not all that costly, ince you eed ID to cash a check, they most likly hae one, how else do they use the TANF , ESB cards or cash their SS checks?? Argument against a ID is mote.

    11. Leon Lundquist says:

      What is it about the word "Gangster" you do not understand? Holder is a gangster! He has no intention whatsoever to fulfill his Oath Of Office! It has nothing to do with Eric Holder not knowing the Law, he is intentionally flaunting the Law! Always! That's what these Obama Gangsters do. Reason has nothing to do with it! You can't argue with it, it is pure Kloward-Piven and destruction of America by any and every means necessary. We have to Defund all those crazy agencies, so why hasn't the House Of Representatives done that? It makes me want to scream!

    12. undunder says:

      Holder is a racist, is incompetent, and totally subservient to his master in chief. He subverts Constitutional limitations on the fed government, chooses not to execute the duties of his office, and tramples on the Constitution- a document he and his boss swore to protect and uphold.

    13. Evelyn Corp says:

      I learn a lot from all your comments and appreciate them and agree with most! I feel this election will be full of voter fraud! It 's the only way O. Can be elected and I pray that it won't happen! Evelyn Corp

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×