The Democratic Party of Virginia and two other plaintiffs may wrap up their case today challenging Virginia’s 2013 law requiring photo voter identification as an attempt to curb minority voting.
Allan J. Lichtman, a history professor at American University and author of “White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement,” testified Thursday that he concludes after study that the intent of the Virginia law was discriminatory. Among other things, Lichtman said the white share of the voting electorate in the state steadily declined in the 10 years leading up to the 2012 election when Democrats, for the first time since 1948, won consecutive presidential elections in Virginia. The Republican base in Virginia is heavily white, while the Democrats count heavily on African-Americans and other minorities and things are trending against the Republicans, said Lichtman, who has testified in more than 80 voting rights cases, at times for Republicans. “It’s race — this is the most fundamental divide politically. That’s what really matters between Republicans and Democrats,” he said.
He said there was no evidence of people impersonating others in order to vote that would justify a photo ID law. He read from emails written by a member of the Republican administration of Gov. Bob McDonnell arguing against the then-proposed 2013 measure because tighter controls enacted in 2012 had been implemented and worked as designed to prevent voter fraud in that year’s presidential election.
Lichtman was on the stand for much of the afternoon Thursday, the fourth day of the trial in Richmond before U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson. Democrats and two other plaintiffs allege that the voting law requiring photo identification was enacted by the Republican-controlled Virginia legislature in response to President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election.