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National Issues

Statement from Robert A. Brady, Chairman, Committee on House Administration PDF  | Print |  Email
By Rep. Robert A. Brady   
April 28, 2008
Today, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision upholding an Indiana law requiring that voters produce photo identification. In explaining their decision, the majority cited concerns over voter fraud and ensuring voter confidence in the election system. This judgment has far-reaching implications for the imposition of voter ID requirements in other states.

In November of 2007, I joined with my colleagues Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Senator Dianne Feinstein in filing an amicus brief arguing the inconsistency of Indiana’s photo-identification requirements for federal elections with federal law and the degree to which they disenfranchise voters.  I strongly believe that voter confidence in our electoral system can only be achieved by maximizing the participation of eligible voters.   What is most disturbing about the Court's decision today is the complete lack of any evidence that the legislation serves any purpose other than making it more difficult for some to vote. Unnecessary barriers to full and unimpeded participation  irreparably  damage our system of government and calls into question its integrity.

The split of opinions in this case is a telling example of the partisan nature of this clearly discriminatory approach. The members of the Supreme Court who endorsed this policy were all appointed under Republican administrations, further reinforcing the idea that suppressing broad voter participation serves conservative Republican interests. Specifically, the voter ID requirement has the potential to severely disenfranchise minority and elderly voters as well as student voters, three demographics that have been historically targeted for voter suppression.

The Court’s ruling leaves open the possibility of bringing other challenges to the law that demonstrate a burden on voters. States considering enacting voter ID laws should not see this ruling as tacitly supporting those measures. As Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, I will continue to aggressively support initiatives and legislation that ensure that every eligible citizen’s right to vote is protected.  Anything less would represent a disservice to the American population that we serve.
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