On Anniversary of Death of Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights Leaders Call on New Yorkers to Increase Participation in Elections
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Today, there is a movement afoot to require that voters provide documentation of their identity at the polls. Some ideas within this movement propose to restrict the eligible documentation that voters can use.
A total of 34 states have passed laws requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. However, because the most common form of ID in the U.S is a state-issued driver’s license, voting law opponents contend that these laws disproportionately affect elderly, minority, disabled, and low-income groups that are unlikely to carry the necessary ID. And according to the Brennan Center, roughly 21 million citizens don’t have a government-issued photo ID. However, supporters of voter ID laws argue that such laws will prevent instances of voter fraud and bring more integrity to the American voting system. A 2011 Rasmussen poll found that 75 percent of voters believe that some form of ID should be shown at the polls.
One of the proposed solutions to help alleviate barriers to voting access is to offer Voting ID Cards. In 2005, former president Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker published a report recommending that voter ID requirements be accompanied by the issuance of free ID cards, distributed by vans that would visit underserved communities.
Until 2013, many states were required to apply for Federal Preclearance before issuing new voter identification laws, as part of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965. However, in 2013, the United States Supreme Court struck down Section 4(b) of the Act in the case Shelby County v. Holder. Section 4(b) provided the formula for determining which states required Federal Preclearance. This effectively removed the requirement for states to apply for Federal Preclearance, and brought significant attention to the national debate on voter ID laws.
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