WASHINGTON, April 5 (UPI) -- U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn said voter ID laws in South Carolina and elsewhere are reminiscent of post-Reconstruction Jim Crow laws.
Clyburn, D-S.C., and other voting rights advocates warn that laws requiring voters to present photo identification when they go to the polls could disenfranchise millions of Americans in the November elections. He says the laws are similar to the post-Civil War Jim Crow laws enacted in Southern states that imposed poll taxes, literacy tests and other roadblocks to prevent blacks from voting, McClatchy Newspapers reported Thursday.
"It was effective then, and if we aren't vigilant, it will be effective today," Clyburn, who is African-American, said. "We must make sure that people are aware of the danger to our democracy."
State Rep. Alan Clemmons, a Republican who helped develop the law, told McClatchy the law was "in no way" discriminatory.
"Any ID that will get you on an airplane in the United States will get you into a voting booth in South Carolina," Clemmons said.
A new report by the liberal think tank Center for American Progress criticized voter ID laws in South Carolina, Texas and Tennessee for not allowing young people to use college-issued student IDs.
The report said about 25 percent of blacks don't have the types of photo IDs required by such laws, compared with 11 percent of all Americans.