Texas Gov. Rick Perry this week said Attorney General Eric Holder was attempting to incite racial tension by calling his state’s voter ID law a “poll tax.”

“In labeling the Texas voter ID law as a ‘poll tax,’ Eric Holder purposefully used language designed to inflame passions and incite racial tension. It was not only inappropriate, but simply incorrect on its face,” Perry said in a statement on July 17, just days after closing arguments in a federal case to determine whether the state’s law violates the Voting Rights Act.

In a speech given before an annual conference of the NAACP on July 10, Holder discussed the Justice Department’s efforts to enforce the Voting Rights Act, including blocking voter ID laws, such as Texas’, that disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters.

“Under the proposed law, concealed handgun licenses would be acceptable forms of photo ID – but student IDs would not. Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them – and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them,” Holder said, according to his prepared script. “We call those poll taxes,” he added in an improvisational comment reported on by the Huffington Post.

But Perry called the measure “common-sense” and said President Obama should apologize for statements made by his controversial cabinet member and for the lawsuit.

“Perhaps while the President is visiting Texas, he can take a break from big-dollar fundraisers to disavow his Attorney General’s offensive and incendiary comments,” Perry stated. He later added, “The president should apologize for Holder’s imprudent remarks and for his insulting lawsuit against the people of Texas.”

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO