DNC chair Wasserman Schultz under fire for Jim Crow comments
June 6th, 2011
05:39 PM ET
12 years ago

DNC chair Wasserman Schultz under fire for Jim Crow comments

Washington (CNN)-Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz might "say anything," but she also might take it back. After being blasted by opponents for invoking Jim Crow during a critique of voter identification laws backed by Republicans, the congresswoman admitted using the "wrong analogy."

When asked about the measures including identification requirements and shorter windows for early voting Sunday, the Florida congresswoman told Roland Martin, CNN contributor and host of "Washington Watch" on TV One, "You have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally-and very transparently-block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates." But she later backed down.

Wasserman Schultz also compared the controversial measures to poll taxes, fees historically used to keep African-Americans from voting that were abolished in 1964.

"Photo I.D. laws, we think, are very similar to a poll tax," she said Sunday. "Just look at African-American voters as a snapshot. About 25 percent of African-American voters don't have a valid photo I.D….the reason it's similar to a poll tax is because you've got the expense. You've got the effort."

During the interview Wasserman Schultz also railed against measures proposed by Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott that would require photo identification, calling them "barriers" to those trying to exercise their right to vote.

"There is so little voter fraud, which is the professed reason the Republicans are advancing these laws," she asserted. "You're more likely to get hit by lightning than you are to see an instance of voter fraud in this country."

"Republicans are imposing laws all over the country, acting like…voter fraud is rampant, and it's ridiculous," Wasserman Schultz claimed.

The National Republican Congressional Committee fired back Monday and accused the four-term Democratic congresswoman of making "absurd accusations" and "offensive remarks."

In a statement the Republican committee said, "Wasserman Schultz will 'literally' say anything."

"After a week of fact-checks debunking her absurd accusations about the GOP plan to save Medicare, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is back at it again spouting offensive and outrageous statements," said the NRCC.

Wasserman Schultz responded Monday by dialing back her comments.

"Jim Crow was the wrong analogy to use," she said.

"I don't regret calling attention to the efforts in a number of states with Republican dominated legislatures, including Florida, to restrict access to the ballot box for all kinds of voters, but particularly young voters, African Americans and Hispanic Americans."

Wasserman Schultz was elected chair of the Democratic National Committee in early May, following the resignation of former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who is now pursuing a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Filed under: Debbie Wasserman Schultz • DNC
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    Debbie was right with her analogy! Republicans hate it when they are exposed! Go Debbie!

    June 7, 2011 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
  2. chris

    The thing is – she's right. Poll taxes during the Jim Crow days were a sneaky, backdoor way intended to prevent blacks from voting. Throughout the country, the Republicans have put forth a host of new laws that would throw up road blocks to voting. And in every instance, the groups most effected by this (the poor, students, etc) have always been ones that traditionally vote Democrat. The GOP have argued that these laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud. Except voter fraud is actually extremely rare. All the stories about millions of illegals voting or ACORN registering Mickey Mouse is nothing more than a misinfromation campaign coming from the right wing propaganda machine.

    Voter suppression by any other name is still voter suppression.

    June 7, 2011 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  3. steven harnack

    I hate it when people apologize for telling the truth.

    June 7, 2011 05:58 am at 5:58 am |
  4. Freddy

    Why did she back down? She was exactly right – the GTOP is trying to limit likely Dem voters from voting. What could be more un-American?

    June 7, 2011 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  5. Mike

    The Ladt was just speaking the truth.

    June 7, 2011 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  6. Mike

    Why did she take it back? She was right the first time. It is like going back to Jim Crow. It is so transparent.

    June 7, 2011 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  7. rcchev

    She was not wrong for what she said, and the comment should not have been "taken it back".

    June 7, 2011 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  8. Mayr Malool

    For the last few elections (here in Florida), I have had to use ONLY my picture ID . A voters registration card has not been needed. but then we did have Jeb running the show for a long while, changing laws to suit republicans, so, there you go

    June 7, 2011 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  9. slg

    If it's true and she meant it why take it back!!

    June 7, 2011 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  10. Blah

    Hear hear. . . let 'em vote a three or four times just to make sure they get it right!

    June 7, 2011 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
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