Morial: What’s the motivation all of the sudden for voter ID laws?

Updated
The National Urban League's Marc Morial discusses Voter ID laws with the Morning Joe panel on Monday March 5, 2012.
The National Urban League's Marc Morial discusses Voter ID laws with the Morning Joe panel on Monday March 5, 2012.

The National Urban League’s Marc Morial joined us this morning to discuss the state of the GOP in the 2012 presidential race and new polls showing the party lagging behind the president in some key battleground states.


Morial also discussed the push for Voter ID laws and why he believes this issue will be an important one in the campaign. Morial characterizes as an “assault on democracy” and an “attack on our Democratic principles.”

Per the site for the bipartisan research group, the National Conference of State Legislatures, 31 states require all voters to show ID before voting at polls. And according to Megan Dorsch, spokeswoman for the National Conference of State Legislatures, “[o]f the 31 laws, 27 are expected to be in effect for the general election this year.”

The issue remains controversial, especially in a state such as South Carolina where the Justice Department barred the state from enacting its voter ID law. The state’s attorney general has now filed a lawsuit to combat the ruling.

Opponents of the ID laws say the law could discourage registered voters from turning out to vote.

Here’s what Morial had to say about “voter suppression laws”:

“There’s been an explosion in the last 18 months of new laws, which are designed to require highly restrictive voter IDs to vote, cutting back on early voting, making it more difficult for people to run voter registration drives…I think Americans need to understand that this is an assault on democracy. It’s an attack on our democratic principles. There’s nothing but a smokescreen behind the argument that you need these new voter suppression laws to somehow protect the integrity of the ballot.”

Joe asked Morial: “Would you be willing to accept requirements of any government issued photo ID?”

Morial: My view is we shouldn’t place a fence in front of a constitutional right, the right to vote, unless there’s some kind of compelling necessity that says that there’s a need to have the ID and that the ID is going to prevent some sort of problem for which there’s evidence. Remember, we’ve had in this democracy, and throughout the years of voting, prior to 18 months ago, only two states that have had these sort of voter ID requirements. So all of the sudden you have an explosion of 34 states that have embarked on some journey to make it more difficult for people to vote. Why all of the sudden?”

Joe Scarborough: I’ve always looked at this and thought it was preposterous. We’ve got a higher safeguard for buying Sudafed than we do for making sure that our elections are…”

Morial: Why all of the sudden?

Scarborough: What do you mean all of the sudden? I’ve been saying this for 15 years.

Mark Halperin weighed in on the issue as well:

I’m coming down the middle on this issue. Disenfranchisement is a huge issue as is the integrity of the process. It’s never going to be a federal system because we give deference to the states on voting. Every state should have a nonpartisan process where they look at both issues and try and pass something comprehensive so there’s integrity and confidence in the system and nobody’s disenfranchised. It’s not that hard to do as long as you try to get the politics put out of it.

Watch the discussion here:


Watch more of our interview with Marc Morial

Morial: What's the motivation all of the sudden for voter ID laws?

Updated