A Democratic congresswoman and former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus charged Republicans with “turning the clock back to the days of Jim Crow” in a fiery speech Wednesday decrying voter identification laws.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said in a speech on the House floor that the GOP is trying to deny blacks the right to vote, saying “it’s no coincidence that a disproportionate number of these affected voters come from communities of color as well as the poor, the elderly and students,” The Hill reported.
“Having been born and raised in Texas, this certainly looks like a poll tax to me, which those of us remember as a way to prevent African Americans from voting. These voter ID laws have a partisan agenda: seeking to disenfranchise and deny specific populations of voters before they have the opportunity to elect their representatives in government,” Lee said.
Lee, a current member of the Congressional Black Caucus who served as its chair from 2009 to 2011, claimed voter ID laws would prevent 1 in 4 blacks from voting, and 1 in 5 Hispanics and Asian Americans. She said the laws are a return to voter suppression seen in the 2000 presidential election, according to The Hill.
“I came to this floor years ago, after the stolen presidential elections in Florida and Ohio, to protest the results of those two elections that were filled with voter suppression,” she said. “It worked for Republicans before, and so legislators in 42 states in this map of shame have doubled down on these strategies to make it harder for certain communities to vote.”
Lee is just the latest Democrat to invoke Jim Crow as an analogy: Over the summer, both former President Bill Clinton and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz accused Republicans of trying to inciting a return to such laws. Lee herself also used the comparison last year when discussing Arizona’s immigration law.
Her comments also come one day after reports that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People believes there’s an effort underway to prevent black and Hispanic voters from participating in the 2012 presidential election.