Leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People were in Geneva this week appealing to the United Nations Human Rights Council for help in fighting voter identification laws in the United States.
NAACP President Benjamin Jealous was part of the delegation to Geneva arguing that laws requiring voters to show ID violate civil and human rights by suppressing election participation, particularly from minorities, USA Today reported. Currently, 30 states have voter ID laws, seven of which were enacted last year.
The U.N. has no authority over American states, but Jealous told reporters last week part of the goal is to "shame them."
"The power of the U.N. on state governments historically is to shame them and to put pressure on the U.S. government to bring them into line with global standards, best practices for democracy," Jealous said, according to NPR. "There are plenty of examples — segregation of the U.S. to apartheid in South Africa to the death penalty here in the U.S. — of global outrage having an impact."
He hoped the NAACP's presentation would spur members of the U.N. to come to the U.S. and "look at the impact of these laws, look at the intent, and actually render their recommendations about what actions we should take with regard to these laws."
Proponents of voter ID laws say they cut down on voter fraud and point out that Americans are often required to show identification to do even the most basic of tasks. Opponents say obtaining a valid ID can be time-consuming and expensive, and disproportionately impacts minority voters.
The NAACP has been at the forefront of fighting such laws; this week, a Wisconsin judge ruled the state's law was unconstitutional, and the Justice Department blocked a law in Texas from taking effect. Last month, South Carolina's attorney general filed a lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for blocking its state voter ID law.