Former Attorney General Eric Holder argued that state governments controlled by the Republican Party implementing voter identification laws are causing “rigged elections,” not voter fraud.
Holder also said the Republican Party’s concern about “voter fraud” was caused by the “record” turnout of minorities voting for former President Obama in 2008 and 2012.
“The restrictive voting laws enacted to combat a next-to-nonexistent problem with their serious and negative collateral impacts are not needed. Now, instead of ensuring the integrity of the voting process, they actually do the opposite by keeping certain groups of people away from the polls and to employ the language of our president – this is how elections are officially rigged, by the state governments controlled by his party. And the creation of this new federal commission on election integrity by this administration is just another frightening attempt to suppress the votes of certain Americans,” Holder said during a luncheon at the NAACP’s annual convention in Baltimore on Monday.
“Make no mistake, this commission, led by a fact-challenged zealot, will come up with bogus reasons why further restrictions should be placed on the right to vote. The over 40 states that have refused to turn over data to the commission are right in that determination. This commission is up to no good. Now, if there is no fact-based voter impersonation problem, what then could be the basis for the photo-identification push? Sadly, the Republican Party has decided to latch itself to short-term political expediency and put itself on the wrong side of history. History will be harsh in its assessment of these efforts,” he added.
Holder said voter identification laws in states controlled by Republicans are designed to suppress voters from minority groups. Holder claimed that “voter fraud” didn’t become an issue in “North Carolina and other places until people of color” voted for Barack Obama in record numbers.
“Faced with demographic changes that they perceive go against them and saddled with a governing philosophy that’s at odds with the governing nations, some Republicans decided that, if you can’t beat them, change the rules. Make it more difficult for those individuals less likely to support Republican candidates to vote,” he said. “This is done with the knowledge that, by simply depressing the vote of certain groups, not even winning the majority of the votes of these groups, that elections can be affected.”
Holder said Trump’s claim that three to five million people voted illegally in the last election is false.
“With claims of rigged elections based on fraud, again, without any proof save the bluster of the then-candidate, this mistaken belief in voter fraud becomes almost hard-wired and with undoubtedly false claims that three to five million people voted illegally in the last presidential election a predicate has been laid to further voter suppression efforts. Studies have shown the actual instance of in-person voter fraud is extremely rare, and that’s very logical,” Holder said.
“To truly impact an election would probably require substantial numbers of people, somehow holding themselves out as voters that they are not, which would almost increase exponentially the exposure of the scheme. No such widespread schemes have ever been detected. Now, do you actually think that three million people could have voted illegally and that this would have gone undetected?” he asked.
Holder, who served in the Obama administration, called for “automatic registration” to vote for all American citizens to add an estimated 50 million eligible voters to the rolls.
“Governments can and should automatically register citizens to vote by compiling from existing databases a list of all eligible residents in each jurisdiction,” he said.
Holder also urged election officials to increase the number of voting days and extend voting hours.
“Insist they make it easier to register and easier to vote and ask them, why is voting tied primarily to a single Tuesday in November?” he said. “We need to work to expand voting days and hours so many of our fellow citizens need not choose from casting a ballot and keeping their jobs.”
Holder told the audience that the ability to cast a vote is a “right, not a privilege” for Americans.
“Under our current system many voters must follow needlessly complex and cumbersome voter registration rules, and before and after every election season state and local officials usually have to manually look at new applications leaving the system riddled with errors and too often creating chaos at the polls,” he said.
“The Pew [Research] Center says that one in eight voter registrations in the United States is invalid or significantly inaccurate. Now, this is not as a result of people trying to game the system. It’s an indication that the system itself is inadequate, that the system is at fault.”
Holder is the chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which is developing a “comprehensive” state-by-state “redistricting strategy” for 2021.