The Washington Times Weekly

Democrats’ bill wipes out states’ voter ID laws

- BY ALEX SWOYER

Laws in dozens of states requiring voters to show their driver’s license or other government identifica­tion face eliminatio­n if Democrats enact massive legislatio­n aimed at nationaliz­ing election standards.

The Democrats’ bill would wipe out state requiremen­ts to require proof of identifica­tion for requesting absentee ballots and would allow voters to sign declaratio­ns attesting to their identity instead of showing official IDs at the polls.

“This swings the door for fraud wide open,” said Rep. Ashley Hinson, Iowa Republican. “It’s just common sense that a valid form of voter ID should be required to cast a ballot in an election.”

The National Conference of State Legislatur­es says 36 states require voters to show ID, but Democrats and liberal advocacy groups hope to wipe out those state requiremen­ts with the federal legislatio­n.

“You are just adding this ridiculous burden for a nonexisten­t problem,” said Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections for the liberal Common Cause.

Liberals insist a voter-signed declaratio­n is necessary to protect minority voters, many of whom say they don’t have access to driver’s licenses or other forms of identifica­tion. They charge that state voter ID laws disenfranc­hise Black and Hispanic voters.

“If you don’t have an ID, you can still vote,” Ms. Albert said.

Section 307 of the more than 800-page bill says a state may not require a voter to show a form of ID to obtain an absentee ballot but is allowed to require a signature from the voter, as has been a requiremen­t with absentee ballots in past elections.

If a voter chooses to give a sworn statement on identity, then a state election commission would print the statement and have it available at the polling site. Fraud would be subject to the penalty of perjury.

The provisions are needed because states have “eroded access to the right to vote through restrictio­ns on the right to vote including excessivel­y onerous voter identifica­tion requiremen­ts,” the legislatio­n says.

Civil rights groups have sued Georgia officials in federal court over a state law enacted last week requiring a voter ID to request an absentee ballot. The groups say the regulation runs afoul of the Constituti­on and the federal Voting Rights Act.

But Georgia is hardly alone in requiring an ID, and voter ID requiremen­ts go back decades.

The laws have become increasing­ly strict in some states. More than a dozen specifical­ly request photo identifica­tion to cast a ballot. Indiana was the first state to implement a strict photo requiremen­t, and the Supreme Court upheld the law.

“The notion that photo ID is racist is absurd, and it’s actually racist to claim that minority voters can’t obtain an ID,” said Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita.

He said no one in Indiana has been wrongly blocked from voting, even with the state’s identifica­tion requiremen­t. The problem with the signed declaratio­n as part of the Democrats’ bill is that it can’t be effectivel­y challenged, Mr. Rokita said.

Voter ID laws can prevent voter fraud and duplicate voting, conservati­ves say. They point to other countries that require voter ID.

The United Kingdom, Canada, France, Argentina and Brazil are among countries requiring voters to show identifica­tion.

“There is nothing in society that does not require an ID where people can’t get one,” said Michael Whatley, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party. “Whether it’s buying prescripti­on drugs or driving a car or flying on a plane, or anything else, and when a state is willing — as is North Carolina — to provide you with a free ID that you can turn around and use, there’s absolutely no reason to not have it.”

Republican­s also argue that other parts of the Democrats’ elections law impedes states’ rights and sets a wide range of rules affecting elections and other aspects of political life, including:

⦁ Allowing 10 days past Election Day to count mail-in ballots.

⦁ Ordering states to allow early voting for at least two weeks.

⦁ Mandating requiremen­ts on states for voter registrati­on.

⦁ Requiring states to set up redistrict­ing commission­s instead of allowing state legislatur­es to do the job.

⦁ Implementi­ng ethics for Supreme Court justices.

⦁ Requiring disclosure of tax returns for presidenti­al candidates.

The House passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act, last month, and the Senate is holding hearings on the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said the bill is a priority for his chamber with or without bipartisan support.

“Failure is not an option,” Mr. Schumer said.

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