Gonzalez Testifies Against New Barriers To The Ballot Box - Voter ID requirements would disfranchise minorities, seniors, students and low income Americans

Sep 8, 2011 Issues: Elections

Voter ID requirements would disfranchise minorities, seniors, students and low income Americans

Washington, D.C.  - Elections Subcommittee Ranking Member Charles A. Gonzalez testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, at a hearing entitled “New State Voting Laws: Barriers to the Ballot?” Congressman Gonzalez’s testimony denounced the sweeping, widespread, and coordinated effort to disenfranchise millions of voters.  Fourteen states have passed laws instituting repressive voter ID requirements and such laws have been introduced in 23 others.

 

“Voter ID laws are a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist,” said Rep. Gonzalez (TX-20). “Worse than that, they create new problems by creating barriers that make it much more difficult for poor voters, young voters, disabled, and particularly minority voters to participate in our democracy. 

 

“Despite repeated claims, there are no cases of voter fraud that would be stopped by voter ID laws. The fact is, voter ID laws don’t stop fraud, they just suppress voting.  Whatever goals their proponents may have, we have seen time and again that the only result of these laws is that more American citizens are denied their Constitutional right to vote. 

 

“Since the founding of our country, constitutional amendments and laws have opened the voting process to minorities, women, and the young citizens we send into combat. In recent years, early voting and no-excuse absentee ballots have increased turnout and civic engagement. Yet Texas and other states are reversing this trend and curtailing the availability of both, driving hundreds of thousands of voters from the polls and creating a more disengaged citizenry.  We have made great progress in the past 235 years in tearing down the barriers that disfranchised millions of Americans.  We must not return to those dark days.”

 

In his written testimony, Congressman Gonzalez explained how voter ID laws disproportionately affect millions whom do not have a current government issued ID. Imposing onerous, and expensive, barriers to the ballot erodes centuries of progress toward empowering all citizens to exercise this fundamental democratic right. They do nothing, however, to stop the types of organized fraud that actually exist, whereby party activists and corrupt government officials can dramatically impact the outcome of an election.

 

At the hearing, Congressman Gonzalez used the Texas voter ID law to show how voter ID laws across the country will create problems for state and local governments and voters without bringing any appreciable benefit.  A driver’s license is the most common form of ID in Texas, but large percentages of Texas voters do not have one, and under the new Texas voter ID law, the legislature provided no funding or plans to deal with an influx of eligible voters applying for the new voter identification card.

 

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Gregory Abbott               

Committee on House Administration - Democratic Staff

United States House of Representatives

1307 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515-6157

Phone: 202.226.7059

Fax: 202.226.2774