January 31, 2006

Ohio Black Caucus Denounces Proposed Voter ID Requirement as Jim Crow Tactic

Black Caucus Denounces Proposed Voter ID Requirements
Caucus Calls Proposal a Jim-Crow Era Tactic

Columbus – Members of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) are outraged by proposed changes to Ohio’s election law in House Bill 3 sponsored by Representative Kevin DeWine (R-Fairborn) that would require all voters to present a current and valid government issued photo ID or another form of acceptable identification such as a utility bill to cast a vote.

“Allegations of widespread voter fraud as justification for this change are simply untrue,” said Representative Barbara Sykes (D-Akron) and OLBC President. “However, there is documented evidence and statistics that prove that this type of requirement is likely to disenfranchise and overburden voters, especially racial minorities and the poor.

In October 2005, a U.S. appeals court upheld an injunction barring the state of Georgia from enforcing a law requiring citizens to present a government-issued photo ID in order to vote. The law was declared unconstitutional and called a smokescreen by opponents who accused Republicans of trying to dilute the minority vote. Opponents provided evidence and statistics that documented disparities in the number of government ID’s issued to white and minority voters. They also demonstrated the negative impact of eliminating the sworn affidavit of identify option as a viable alternative to presenting identification.

“Even in 2005 we are still fighting the same Jim-Crow Era tactics that try to rob citizens of equal access and opportunity in this country,” said Representative Sykes.

Jim Crow was the name given to the system of laws and customs that enforced racial segregation and discrimination throughout the United States, especially in the South, from the late 19th century through the 1960's.

OLBC members and other opponents believe that current safeguards in Ohio law have worked exceptionally well to prevent voter fraud. A post-election review of Ohio in 2004 found only 4 illegal votes out of 9-million cast.

“I have no doubt that that this change will suppress minority votes across Ohio. Surely, House Bill 3 counteracts the intent of the Voting Rights Act and the entire Civil Rights movement,” said Representative Sykes.

For further information contact:

TaKeysha Sheppard Cheney
Executive Director, OLBC
(614) 746-1363 cell
(614) 341-6912 office

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