Home Posts To Please Joe Manchin, Can Democrats Stomach A National Voter ID Law?
To Please Joe Manchin, Can Democrats Stomach A National Voter ID Law?
Voting Rights

To Please Joe Manchin, Can Democrats Stomach A National Voter ID Law?


To obtain Sen. Joe Manchin's (D-W.Va.) vote to begin debate on the For The People Act, a comprehensive voting rights, campaign finance, redistricting, and ethics reform bill, Democratic Party leadership had to accommodate his views.

The voting rights provisions of the For The People Act, which were largely written by the late Democratic congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis, established a national floor for state voting rules that would make it easier to vote, but Manchin proposed a national voter identification law as a compromise.

Democrats need Manchin's support for some version of the For The People Act to become law. Not only does he have to support it, but he also has to support changing the Senate's filibuster rules, which he currently opposes. Several Democratic political figures, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a chief sponsor of the bill, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), and 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey

The question now is whether such a provision can be crafted while remaining consistent with the bill's overarching goal of removing barriers to voting. Civil and voting rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers argue that voter ID laws not only make it more difficult to vote, but also serve as a tool of voter suppression targeting specific voter groups such as Black, Lat, and Hispanic voters.

Manchin's proposed compromise was labeled an "atrocity" by Kat Calvin, co-founder of Spread the Vote, a nonprofit that assists voters in obtaining the necessary voter identification in their state.

“The creation of a national voter ID requirement is just so problematic from the start,” said Jesselyn McCurdy, interim executive vice president of government affairs for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “If you create a national voter ID requirement, you’re forcing states to come up with more restrictive laws than they already have on the books.”

Manchin's national voter ID proposal adds to the confusion by providing little to no information about what it is, with his compromise list simply stating: "Require voter ID with allowable alternatives (utility bill, etc.) to prove identity to vote."

“It is unclear what he is seeking in terms of a voter ID requirement,” said Wendy Weiser, director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s democracy program.

What Is the Importance of Voter ID?

The ultimate question for voting rights advocates and the other 49 Senate Democrats is whether a national ID requirement is restrictive or not.

The Help American Vote Act of 2002 required voters nationwide who did not register to vote in person to provide some form of identification the first time they showed up to vote. This form of identification can simply be a voter saying their name and address to a poll worker and signing their name.

In total, 36 states go above and beyond the HAVA requirements to require voter identification at the polls.

Beginning in 2005, Republican-led states began to adopt more stringent forms of identification; these efforts quickly accelerated. Following the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted the Voting Rights Act, the number of states adopting restrictive ID laws, particularly restrictive photo ID laws, increased dramatically.

A restrictive identification law is one that requires photo identification, limits the types of identification accepted at the polls, and limits how a voter can still vote without the required photo identification. The most restrictive laws are those that do not provide any way for voters who lack the required identification to otherwise identify themselves and vote.

Republicans promoting restrictive voter ID laws claim to be doing so to combat election fraud, but there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in recent U.S. elections.

Studies show that voter ID laws do nothing to combat fraud, which may be because there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud to begin with. However, studies also show that voter ID laws do not, or only minimally, suppress voter turnout, as opponents of these measures claim.

Voter ID advocates, on the other hand, argue that even if voter ID laws have little effect on voter turnout, they still create unnecessary barriers for certain groups of voters, such as Black, Latino, Native American, student, disabled, and elderly voters.

Publicity

“Any voter ID law creates a barrier for voters and often for election officials, so by definition, a new national voter ID law will make it more difficult for some voters to vote,” said Liz Avore, the Voting Rights Lab’s vice president for law and policy.

“The issue here is that most Americans believe that voter ID laws are fine because they believe that everyone has an ID,” Calvin explained.

However, many voters not only do not have the type of identification required to vote, but also have difficulty obtaining alternative forms of identification required to obtain that identification.

Voters who are homeless, recently aged out of the foster care system, or recently released from prison may lack a utility bill or a fixed address; some elderly voters may lack or have difficulty obtaining a birth certificate; and many disabled voters have difficulty going to the required in-person venue to obtain their ID. Fewer young voters obtain a driver's license by the time they turn 18.

A Potential Next Step

There is an outcome where a national voter ID law in the For the People Act actually makes it easier to vote in some places, allowing voters to use many different things for identification, from all possible forms of ID to a utility bill. This appears to be what Manchin is thinking about based on the limited information he provided.

Advocates may be opposed to this option because it would impose a new burden on states that only follow the HAVA minimum requirement. Furthermore, the For the People Act already requires states with restrictive laws to allow voters to sign an affidavit under felony penalty of perjury that they are who they say they are and to vote with a provisional ballot.

To ensure that an identification requirement does not make voting more difficult, voters must be able to identify themselves in some way if they do not have any form of identification. Going a step further, a national voter ID law could theoretically mandate that states provide free voter identification and provide the funds for them to do so — or simply create a free national voter ID card and provide the funds for it.

Restrictive laws that could be overturned by a national voter ID law include those enacted by Republicans that appear to be aimed at restricting voter access for specific groups that disproportionately vote for Democrats.

Montana, for example, recently revised its list of acceptable forms of voter identification to exclude student IDs.

Montana, for example, recently revised its list of acceptable forms of voter identification to exclude student IDs..State school students in Georgia can vote using their student ID, but those who attend private universities, including large historically Black colleges and universities such as Morehouse College and Spelman College, cannot.

Montana, for example, recently revised its list of acceptable forms of voter identification to exclude student IDs..State school students in Georgia can vote using their student ID, but those who attend private universities, including large historically Black colleges and universities such as Morehouse College and Spelman College, cannot..Students in Tennessee cannot use their ID, but university faculty and staff can.

Montana, for example, recently revised its list of acceptable forms of voter identification to exclude student IDs..State school students in Georgia can vote using their student ID, but those who attend private universities, including large historically Black colleges and universities such as Morehouse College and Spelman College, cannot..Students in Tennessee cannot use their ID, but university faculty and staff can..A North Dakota voter ID law required voters to provide identification with a street address, despite the fact that Native Americans living on reservations do not have street addresses in the majority of cases.

Montana, for example, recently revised its list of acceptable forms of voter identification to exclude student IDs..State school students in Georgia can vote using their student ID, but those who attend private universities, including large historically Black colleges and universities such as Morehouse College and Spelman College, cannot..Students in Tennessee cannot use their ID, but university faculty and staff can..A North Dakota voter ID law required voters to provide identification with a street address, despite the fact that Native Americans living on reservations do not have street addresses in the majority of cases..(The tribes of North Dakota reached an agreement with the state to assist in the provision of valid voter identification.)

Montana, for example, recently revised its list of acceptable forms of voter identification to exclude student IDs..State school students in Georgia can vote using their student ID, but those who attend private universities, including large historically Black colleges and universities such as Morehouse College and Spelman College, cannot..Students in Tennessee cannot use their ID, but university faculty and staff can..A North Dakota voter ID law required voters to provide identification with a street address, despite the fact that Native Americans living on reservations do not have street addresses in the majority of cases..(The tribes of North Dakota reached an agreement with the state to assist in the provision of valid voter identification.).(Observe:

North Carolina's 2013 "monster" election law is the most infamous example of how restrictive voter ID laws can target specific groups. After Republicans took control of the state government in 2012, legislators sought out data on which forms of ID were disproportionately held by Black voters, such as public assistance cards, and passed a strict voter ID law that excluded those IDs from the list of acceptable IDs.

In 2016, GOP political consultant Carter Wrenn told The Washington Post, "Of course it's political; why else would you do it?"

In an opinion that said the “new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision,” to “impose cures for problems that did not exist,” a federal appeals court panel eventually struck down the North Carolina law, which also limited early voting and made it harder to register to vote.

Publicity

While Manchin may be able to live with a strict national voter identification requirement in the end, the other 49 Senate Democrats will not, effectively killing legislation that requires the support of every Democratic Senator. Negotiations between Manchin, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and the bill's principals are still ongoing.

The caucus will have to walk a fine line between appeasing Manchin and fundamentally restricting the right to vote, with millions of people's votes at stake.

0 Comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published, Required fields are marked with *.