Susan Jones | Senior Editor | Wednesday, September 20, 2006
The Democratic National Committee is applauding a Georgia judge, who has permanently blocked a state voter ID law from taking effect.
In the ruling issued Tuesday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge T. Jackson Bedford Jr. said Georgia's new photo ID law violated the state constitution by placing an extra burden on qualified voters.
"Any attempt by the Legislature to require more than what is required by the express language of our Constitution cannot withstand judicial scrutiny," Bedford wrote.
Press reports said the issue may reach the George Supreme Court before the general election on Nov. 7.
The Democratic National Committee says voter ID laws are nothing more than "Republican attempts to restrict voting rights."
The DNC noted that just last week, a circuit court overturned Missouri's "harmful voter ID" law.
"This is the second blow in less than a week to the Republican strategy to narrow and limit the rights of America's voters," said Donna Brazile, who chairs the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute.
"This latest decision in favor of voting rights and against Georgia's voter ID sends a message to Republicans across the country, that their partisan schemes to undermine the right to vote will not go unchallenged."
The House of Representatives on Wednesday is expected to vote on H.R. 4844, "The Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006," which would require voters to show government-issued photo IDs, such as a driver's license, when voting in federal elections. The bill also would require people to prove their U.S. citizenship when registering to vote.
Supporters say the bill will reduce fraud at the polls -- and prevent illegal aliens from casting ballots.
But the DNC said Republicans should "think twice" before enacting a federal voter ID law. "This Republican legislation would become the equivalent of a national poll tax," the DNC said.
"As Democrats, we believe that no American should have to pay in order to vote, and we will continue to fight for meaningful election reform that ensures every citizen has access to the ballot and that those votes are accurately counted."
Democrats have argued that the poor, the infirm, the elderly and minorities would be hard-pressed to come up with government-issued photo IDs.
The National League of Women Voters also is urging Congress to reject the Federal Election Integrity Act, which it describes as a "manipulation" of the voting process.
"This is an attempt to politicize the voting process by erecting barriers to keep many eligible, legal voters from participating," National League President Mary G. Wilson said.
Wilson questions arguments that the bill will reduce voter identity fraud. She pointed to a "lack of evidence of instances in which voters misrepresent their identity at the polls."
The National League says voter ID laws will disproportionately impact people who are least likely to have a current photo ID.
"In modern society it is easy to assume that everyone has appropriate ID or can prove their citizenship. But it is more difficult than one might think," Wilson said. "The costs in time and money of obtaining proof of citizenship and photo ID would clearly discourage voter participation."
But Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), who sponsored the Federal Election Integrity Act, says that requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls "presents no greater hardship than people face performing everyday activities."
For example, Hyde noted that government-issued photo IDs are required for driving vehicles, applying for Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, food stamps, boarding airplanes, entering government buildings, registering at school, getting student loans, renting movies, and cashing checks.
Given all the cases in which U.S. citizens are asked to produce photo IDs, it should not be difficult to produce IDs to guard against fraud in the electoral system, Hyde said.
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