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House Considers Restrictive Voting Rights Bill

The US House of Representatives is expected to vote sometime this week on a bill that could effectively disenfranchise registered and eligible voters across the country. [UPDATE: The House passed this bill on Wednesday, Sept. 20. The bill has now moved to the Senate.] The “Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006” (H.R. 4844), introduced by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), would require all voters to obtain and produce a photo, government-issued identification card that proves citizenship in order to vote. According to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, most states do not accept drivers’ licenses as a valid proof of citizenship, meaning that many citizens who only have a drivers’ license would be unable to vote until another form of identification is secured.

The League of Women Voters has joined Democrats in criticizing the bill, arguing that this bill is “a manipulation of the voting process,” and that it discriminates against those who may have a more difficult time obtaining another form of identification – such as the elderly, young people, people of color, and rural voters, according to the Democratic National Committee. The bill has also been likened to a poll tax; federally issued identification cards often cost money, and the fee to obtain a passport, which would suffice to prove citizenship, is $97.

Yesterday, in Georgia, a state Superior Court judge issued an injunction against a similar voter ID law, ruling that the law would violate the constitutional rights of Georgia citizens and could result in the disenfranchisement of legally registered voters, according to the Associated Press.

Sources:

DNC 9/19/06, 9/14/06; the Tennessean 9/17/06; Leadership Conference on Civil Rights 9/18/06; US State Department website; Associated Press 9/20/06

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