Black Group Welcomes Supreme Court Decision to Hear Voter ID Case
"We Have a Right to a Process that is Free of Fraud and Corruption"
For Release: September 28, 2007
Contact: David Almasi at 202/543-4110 x11
Calling voting "one of the most fundamental rights we have," members of the Project 21 black leadership network are calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to provide a clear and unmistakable ruling on the constitutionality of states requiring voters to show photo identification at polls before the 2008 general elections.
Proponents of voter ID requirements say they want to lessen the likelihood of voter fraud. Opponents, such as Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, say that asking for a driver's license or passport at a polling station is the equivalent of a "modern-day poll tax."
"While I am appalled that the Supreme Court feels compelled to have to take up such a case in the first place, it is important we get this issue behind us before the next election," said Project 21's Kevin Martin. "Voting is one of the most fundamental rights we have as Americans, and we have a right to a process that is free of fraud and corruption."
Six states currently require some sort of photo ID be presented before ballots are issued to voters. Photo ID laws were challenged and upheld by the courts in Indiana, Georgia and Arizona. In Missouri, a photo ID law was struck down last year.
In his majority opinion for a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Richard A. Posner pointed out that the Indiana law is meant to counteract voter fraud, "and voter fraud impairs the right of legitimate voters to vote by diluting their votes." Before the enactment of the Indiana law in 2005, voters were only required to sign a book at the polling place and their signature could be compared with a copy on file.
Project 21 members do not believe strengthening the voter verification process is an impediment to voting.
A September 2007 report by The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis backs this assertion, stating that voter identification laws in general "largely do not have the claimed negative impact on voter turnout based on state-to-state comparisons. African-American respondents in photo identification states are just as likely to report voting compared to African-American respondents from states that only required voters to state their name.""Likening the requirement of a credible ID to a poll tax or other Jim Crow-era roadblocks is nothing more than empty rhetoric parroted by partisan operatives," added Project 21's Martin. "Photo IDs of the sort necessary to vote in states such as Indiana are a growing everyday requirement in the post-9/11 world for security reasons as well as for business transactions. Where government isn't already helping and making it easier for those without such identification to obtain it, steps can and should be taken. This should silence all critics, except for those who seek to exploit existing rules to defraud people of the honor and duty of participating in the election process."
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or Project21@nationalcenter.org, or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.