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John Tanner faces the Judiciary Committee

The Washington Post reports: House Democrats sharply criticized the head of the Justice Department's voting section yesterday for making a series of racially charged statements, including his suggestion that black voters are not hurt as much as whites by voter identification laws because "they die first."

In a tense appearance before a House Judiciary subcommittee, John K. Tanner apologized for the "tone" of his comments about elderly voters earlier this month and said they "do not in any way accurately reflect my career of devotion" to upholding federal voting rights laws. ...

But Tanner, a 31-year Justice Department career employee, also stuck by his assertion that demographic differences between racial groups temper the impact on minorities of laws requiring that voters present detailed identification, prompting several Democrats to question his fitness to be a senior official in the department's Civil Rights Division.

"You're saying you're right but your tone was wrong," said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.). "I don't know what you're apologizing for."

Toby Moore, a former political geographer in the voting section, told the committee that Tanner regularly engaged in "broad generalizations, deliberate misuse of statistics and casual supposition" in making decisions, including overruling Moore and other career employees in approving a 2005 Georgia voter identification law. -- Justice Dept. Voting Chief Apologizes But Persists - washingtonpost.com

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