NVRI: National Voting Rights Institute

NVRI E-News: September 19, 2006

NVRI E-NEWS: Tell Congress "I Shouldn’t Need a Passport to Vote"


Dear Friends,

Less than two months ago, Congress voted -- by overwhelming margins -- to renew and restore the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Throughout the debate, members of Congress expressed their commitment to protecting the fundamental right to vote. But the House of Representatives is now considering legislation that would undermine this important, bipartisan victory and disenfranchise some of the very citizens that the VRA is designed to protect. Click here to tell your representative not to undermine the gains that have been made in protecting voting rights!

The "Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006" (H.R. 4844), sponsored by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), would require all voters to obtain and show government-issued photo ID proving their citizenship before they could vote. In the vast majority of states, drivers’ licenses do not currently require proof of citizenship and thus would not meet the ID requirements of H.R. 4844. So what this would mean in practice is that voters who do not bring to the polls a photo ID that verifies their citizenship – such as a passport – could not vote. Take action to stop H.R. 4844!

The House is expected to vote on H.R. 4844 as early as Wednesday. If passed, H.R. 4844 would prevent many eligible voters from exercising their right to vote, while doing nothing to combat voter fraud:
  • H.R. 4844 would disproportionately impact people of color, the elderly, individuals with disabilities, rural and Native voters, the homeless, low-income people, and married women, who studies show to be less likely to carry a photo ID. And according to the State Department, only 25% of Americans over age 18 have a passport.
  • By requiring voters to pay for photo ID and proof of citizenship, H.R. 4844 is the equivalent of a poll tax. Further, proof of citizenship may be impossible for some voters to obtain. For example, until recently, it was common in some parts of the country for people to be born at home, without obtaining an official birth certificate.
  • While supporters of H.R. 4844 argue that it will combat voter fraud, the evidence clearly shows that current anti-fraud laws work. Congress and the states are already successful at preventing non-citizens from voting and ensuring that voters are who they claim to be. And there is no evidence that the type of fraud that this bill seeks to address is anything but an anomaly.

Thanks for caring about voting rights for all Americans!