Monday, September 25, 2006


FRANK JAMES, CHICAGO TRIBUNE NEWSBLOG - The House passed by a largely
partisan vote of 228 to 196 the Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006
which would require anyone wanting to vote in a federal election to
present polling place officials with a government-issued photo ID. But
according to the legislation, it can't be any old government-issued
photo ID. It must be one that proves its holder is a U.S. citizen.

That rules out driver's licenses since a legal, non-citizen U.S.
resident can get those. And in many states illegal immigrants can still
get drivers licenses though that is set to change in a couple of years .
. .

So under the legislation whose sponsor, is Illinois' own Republican Rep.
Henry Hyde, a lot of people may wind up needing to take their U.S.
passports with them to vote on future election days if the FEIA is
passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Bush.

That's a big if, however, since there doesn't appear to be a lot of
support for the legislation in the other chamber. . .

The legislation is an example of a cure that is worse than the disease,
critics say. They warn that large numbers of voters will be
disenfranchised because older and poor voters, among others, won't
easily be able to obtain an unimpeachable government-issued ID.

It costs $85 to get a passport, not counting the cost of photographs.
And a passport isn't something that a lot of Americans have. Indeed, the
State Department says only 27 percent of Americans possess one.

State issued IDs would be allowed. But states with voter ID laws like
Georgia and Missouri are requiring voters to show proof of citizenship
like birth certificates before issuing the documents and, hard as it is
for many to believe, some Americans don't have birth certificates. A
Kansas City woman the opponents use as Exhibit A, Maria Frencher, can't
get a birth certificate because she was adopted and doesn't know her
actual father's details.

Opponents consider the photo ID requirement as a new poll tax, the
descendant of the insidious poll taxes that were common in the South and
meant to disenfranchise black voters after the Constitution's 15th
Amendment gave them the right to vote following the Civil War.

Critics of the legislation have come right out and accused its
supporters of slyly wanting to depress the votes of voters more likely
to vote for Democrats than Republicans.

State judges in Georgia and Missouri have recently enjoined officials in
both statse from enforcing voter ID laws they've enacted on the grounds
that they are unconstitutional.

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