STATEMENT: Voting Rights Group Condemns Anti-voter Bills in Three States, Urges Citizens to Take Action

Release Date: 
February 3, 2006

New York, NY — Today, Demos, a national election reform and voting rights organization, issued the following statement condemning the passage of new restrictive voter ID requirements in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Georgia. Ohio Gov. Bob Taft and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue have already signed the bills, while the bills in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania will arrive at their governors' desks next week.

"The movement of voter ID legislation through state legislatures this year shows that all of the gains we have made in advancing voting rights and fair elections are under threat from regressive election law. Not only do these bills impede access to the voting booth, but they also distract lawmakers from focusing on real improvements to elections, such as enacting Election Day registration, restoring voting rights to the formerly incarcerated, and investing more in hiring and recruiting trained election officials and poll workers.

"The state legislatures that have recently passed restrictive voter ID bills, including those in Georgia, Indiana and Wisconsin, were largely fueled by allegations of 'rampant voter fraud' despite research and testimony from experts that shows there is little evidence of fraud that would be prevented by requiring restrictive ID at the polls. Significant evidence does demonstrate, however, that the elderly, people with disabilities, students, low-income people and people of color are far less likely to have a state-issued voter ID than other Americans.

"Although Gov. Taft and Gov. Perdue have already signed the voter ID legislation, Pennsylvania's Gov. Rendell is expected to veto it, and New Hampshire's Gov. John Lynch should do the same. Pennsylvania's bill, while less restrictive than either Georgia or New Hampshire's bills, is particularly egregious because it rolls back voting rights restoration for the formerly incarcerated by making parolees ineligible to vote.

"Concerned citizens in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire should contact their governor's offices and let them know that voter ID is a rollback in voting rights, and that the veto pen should be used swiftly. And other states contemplating similar legislation will see restrictive voter ID for what it really is — an impediment to exercising one of the most fundamental rights in our democracy."

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