By Teresa Welsh |
Across the country, states are considering or have passed legislation that would require voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot. Speaking Tuesday at the NAACP convention in Texas (where a 2011 state law requiring voters to show photo ID is currently being challenged in a federal court), Attorney General Eric Holder compared the law to "poll taxes," referring voting fees used in the post-Abolition South to discourage African-Americans from voting made illegal by the 24th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He vowed his Justice Department "will not allow political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right."
Proponents of the law say not requiring a photo ID makes it easy for people to vote more thand once or under names not their own, inviting fraud that compromises the integrity of elections. If one must have an ID to drive or buy alcohol, they argue, requiring it to vote is reasonable.
Critics of voter ID laws say that the threat of voter fraud is wildly exaggerated and that such requirements disenfranchise certain communities, such as minorities, the poor, and senior citizens. It's no coincidence, they say, that voter ID measures are typically pushed by conservatives, as the demographics most affected by them tend to lean Democratic.
Should photo ID be required to vote? Here is the Debate Club's take:
Hans A. Von Spakovsky Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation
Wendy Weiser Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law