Today, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 4844, the “Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006,” which would require individuals to present government-issued photo ID before voting in federal elections beginning in 2008. By 2010, voters must present proof of citizenship.
Never mind that federal and state judges have repeatedly blocked implementation of Georgia’s photo ID law as an unconstitutional infringement on the right to vote. For the same reason, voting rights advocates strongly oppose the federal legislation.
In a joint letter signed by a cross-section of organizations, including AARP, the American Civil Liberties Union, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, League of Women Voters of the United States, the NAACP and National Urban League, they wrote:
First, no citizen should have to pay to vote. Many U.S. citizens either do not have or cannot easily access documents that prove their citizenship such as a passport or birth certificate. Attempts to cover the cost of ID for voters who cannot afford them are not sufficient, as our most cherished civil right should never depend on annual appropriations decisions. Moreover, citizens would still be faced with the expense and time involved in getting the documentation required to obtain ID. Thus, while the Voting Rights Act eliminated poll taxes, H.R. 4844 brings them back.
In addition, proof of citizenship may be impossible for some people to obtain. Until recently, it was common in certain parts of the country for people to be born at home, without obtaining an official birth certificate. If H.R. 4844 were to become law, these American citizens would be disenfranchised.
The requirement that all voters present a photo ID before being able to cast a regular ballot will disproportionately disenfranchise people of color, the elderly, individuals with disabilities, rural and Native voters, the homeless, low-income people, and married women, who are less likely to carry a photo ID. Photo ID requirements also build an enormous amount of discretion into the balloting process, thus creating opportunities for discrimination at the polls against racial, ethnic, and language minority voters.
To tell Congress that no American should need a passport to vote, click here.