Stringent voter ID requirements infringe on Americans’ voting rights and have nothing to do with immigration

Statement of PFAW Senior Staff Attorney David Becker Prior to N.M. Congressional Hearing

LAS CRUCES—At a news conference here this morning, People For the American Way Senior Staff Attorney David Becker delivered the following statement about the congressional hearing on national voter identification requirements scheduled to take place here later this morning:

“We’re proud to be here today with a broad spectrum of social justice and civil rights organizations to talk about voting rights, and how those rights would be adversely impacted by national voter identification requirements.

“The House Administration Committee will meet here this morning to gather information about whether Congress should institute such requirements. It should not. Such requirements are utterly unnecessary, and they purport to address a problem of voter fraud that is virtually nonexistent. Common sense, often absent in Congress, tells us to avoid them: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

“There would be almost no benefit to a national voter ID program, but there would be many drawbacks. Most important, such requirements would prevent many American citizens from exercising their right to vote. Those most likely to be disenfranchised by such requirements are the poor, the elderly, students, and racial minorities. The same people who have historically faced discrimination at the polls are the people who are least likely to have a driver’s license, proof of citizenship, or other form of photo I.D. These are not people who are trying to commit voter fraud.

“It is particularly troubling that the congressional committee seems to be trying to tie the issue of voter I.D. and voter fraud to the issue of immigration. Again, let’s just use a little common sense. If you’re an undocumented worker, the last thing you would do is try to vote. Walk right up to a government official who you think might ask for your documents? Please. Grouping the issues of voter fraud and immigration together perpetuates stereotypes and creates false fears. It’s the worst kind of politics. It’s not reality. There are more important issues for Congress to focus on.

“Any legislation that would erect barriers to the polls rather than eliminating them—turning us back to the days of poll taxes and literacy tests—must be rejected. That’s what national voter ID requirements would do.”

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