Vice President Joe Biden said voter ID legislation in some red states is based on hatred and slammed the Supreme Court for striking down provisions of the Voting Rights Act when speaking at a Black History Month reception.
Biden pointed specifically to North Carolina, Alabama and Texas for passing laws requiring that voters show ID to prove they are who they say they are before casting a ballot.
“These guys never go away. Hatred never, never goes away,” Biden told about 150 people Tuesday night at the Naval Observatory, according to the White House press pool report. “The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”
Supporters of the measures cite examples and prosecutions of voter fraud, such as people claiming a false identity, voting more than once under different names, or voting under the name of deceased people.
But Biden insisted it restricts the right to vote.
“Without the right to vote, nothing else much mattered,” Biden said, reflecting on the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Guests in attendance at the vice president’s home included White House adviser Valerie Jarret, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, former NBA star and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and Lee Saunders, the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.
Biden pounded his fist at the podium saying that when the Voting Rights Act was reauthorized in 1982 with the support of former segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond, “I thought it was done–finally, finally done.”
But he turned his anger at the Supreme Court, which in June ruled 5-4 to strike down provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that require states with a history of preventing blacks from voting to get approval from the U.S. Justice Department before changing their election laws. The case, Shelby County vs. Holder, came after the Justice Department took numerous actions to block state voter ID laws.
The high court’s decision left in place bans on such things as literacy tests and poll taxes, but determined some aspects of the four-decade-old law are not applicable today.
Biden credited President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder for their efforts in fighting voter ID laws.
“This fight has been too long, this fight has been too hard, to do anything other than win–not on the margins, but flat-out win,” Biden said.