Black leaders to SC gov: You’re a minority, too

January 23, 2012

(AP)  COLUMBIA, S.C. — Civil rights leaders bothered by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s stance on issues like requiring voters to show their IDs at the polls are reminding the governor that she is a minority, too.

“She couldn’t vote before 1965, just as I couldn’t,” said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, referring to the Voting Rights Act that abolished poll taxes, literacy tests and other ways whites across the Deep South kept minorities from voting.

Jackson and other critics have said the law is merely a new, covert effort to take away the right to vote from older blacks and poor people, groups who historically tend to vote for Democrats and are less likely to have a driver’s license or other government-issued ID.

Both Haley’s parents were born in India and came to South Carolina before she was born. Haley — a Republican who became the state’s first female governor — never dwells on her heritage, but she has occasionally mentioned it in her inaugural speech or stories from her childhood. Almost all have the same theme of overcoming adversity.

She refused an interview for this story, instead sending a statement through her spokesman, Rob Godfrey, defending her support of South Carolina’s law requiring photo identification at the polls. The governor has said the measure is needed to prevent voter fraud.

“Those who see race in this issue are those who see race in every issue, but anyone looking at this law honestly will understand it is a commonsense measure to protect our voting process. Nothing more, nothing less,” Haley said in her statement.

Haley has invoked strong rhetoric against the federal government and the Obama administration on the voter ID issue and two others. A federal judge temporarily put a halt to the state’s law cracking down on illegal immigrants, while the National Labor Relations Board fought Boeing Co.’s efforts to build a plant in North Charleston that would employ 1,000. The board had claimed Boeing built the plant in South Carolina — a right-to-work state where workers are not required to join unions — to retaliate for past union disputes with its workers in Washington state.

But leaders of the NAACP said after a Martin Luther King Day rally at the South Carolina Statehouse that they would expect a governor who experienced some prejudice growing up to have some compassion, especially when it comes to the voter ID law.

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