As opponents of the nation’s newest voter ID legislation argued in court this week the measure would unfairly disenfranchise minority voters, Georgia’s top election official told a local business publication that his state had witnessed an astronomical increase in minority participation since the tightening of its own election laws.
A Pennsylvania judge is expected to rule as early as next week on the Keystone State’s parallel measure, one of ten approved nationwide in just the last year, that was challenged by local Democrats and civil liberties groups warning of voter suppression.
But Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said that those concerns of voter caging had been fundamentally discredited in the six years since Georgia lawmakers mandated that would-be voters present state-issued identification at polls.
“There has been a lot of talk from different groups [saying] that it has taken us back in time and is trying to suppress minority turnout,” Kemp, who served in the state legislature when it greenlit the bill in 2006, said of the criticism. “If you look at the numbers in Georgia, that’s simply not the truth.”
Not only has the legislation weathered a number of legal challenges since its adoption, among the earliest efforts in the nation, but voter participation rates among African American and Latino voters have been “astronomically” boosted, he said.
“When you compare the ‘04 presidential election to ‘08, then the ‘06 governor’s election to 2010, the minority participation went up astronomically – Latino and African-American voters,” Kemp told Georgia Trend magazine. “We have the numbers to prove that. Stories about suppression – that’s just not the case. There are big increases.”
- James Richardson