House Approves Voter ID Act to Democrats' Dismay

Melanie Hunter | Senior Editor | Wednesday, September 20, 2006

House Approves Voter ID Act to Democrats' Dismay

(CNSNews.com) - In a vote of 228 to 196, the House Wednesday approved a bill that requires Americans to show proof of citizenship in order to vote, but Democrats said the measure amounts to a Republican voter suppression bill.

The Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006 (H.R. 4844), also known as the Voter ID Act, would take effect in 2010 and require voters to present a photo ID that could not have been obtained without proof of U.S. citizenship.

"Every election cycle we hear stories of voter fraud and stories of non-citizens voting in our elections. That is why the Voter ID Act is the common sense step towards bringing integrity to our elections," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) in a statement.

According to Hastert, the Voter ID Act builds on the REAL ID Act and follows the recommendation of the bipartisan Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform.

But Democrats were less than pleased with the bill's passage. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said the bill is "tantamount to a 21st century poll tax."

"It will disenfranchise large numbers of legal voters," the Associated Press quoted Hoyer as saying.

Speaking on the House floor Wednesday prior to the vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said that in approving the measure, her colleagues have undermined the "right to vote" and "our democracy." The bill would also disenfranchise voters, she said.

"Though the right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, the bill we debate today would in effect disenfranchise millions of American voters: the elderly, African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, people with disabilities; and the list goes on," Pelosi said.

She noted that more than a month ago, the president signed into law the Voting Rights Act Reauthorization. "We overcame many obstacles, even for the reauthorization of that legislation, to affirm the most precious right in our democracy -- the right to vote," Pelosi said.

"As the NAACP has said, this bill 'would disenfranchise many of the very citizens that the VRA [Voting Rights Act] is designed to protect.' And the Republicans call that integrity. I don't think so," Pelosi added.

Hastert responded that "the foundation of democracy is sealed in the promise of fair voting for the American people."

"I am disappointed that Leader Pelosi and 191 Democrats voted against the Voter ID Act and do not support a fair election process that our nation expects," Hastert said.

The Senate is not likely to take up the measure during this session.

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