voting rights cases—and as former Voting Section lawyer Christian Adams points out, only 13 were related to protecting minority voting rights. And, with respect to some of the cases in which the department has been involved, it lost spectacularly—such as its false claim that South Carolina’s voter ID law was discriminatory.
Perhaps President Obama misspoke when he overstated the number of voting rights cases by more than 60—or perhaps he was misinformed by his Attorney General, Eric Holder. In fact, the ever-criticized Bush administration had a much better enforcement record with much higher case numbers than the Obama administration, as was outlined in a report released by the Justice Department’s Inspector General in March 2013. President Obama also made no mention of his administration’s unjustified dismissal of the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party—that would, after all, not fit the narrative he is trying to propagate. Regardless, President Obama’s exaggerated claims come as no surprise, especially given the setting of this particular speech.
Al Sharpton’s National Action Network conference in New York City, where Bertha Lewis, the former CEO of ACORN, an organization convicted of numerous voter registration frauds, participated in a panel discussion earlier in the week, was the perfect arena for the President’s inaccurate claims. In her remarks, Lewis declared that there is a “great fear” of what she called the “darker…new majority” that she says wields power in America. She went on to say that supporters of voter ID laws are attempting to implement a “South African apartheid-type thing where the masters of the universe still rule.” She is apparently unaware that Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s former president, supported voter ID laws or that South Africa today has much stricter ID requirements than any state in America.