What if, upon arriving at your polling place, you were informed that you were ineligible to cast a ballot because you had forgotten your photo ID? Or how would you react to an election official informing your elderly relative that she was unable to vote because she no longer maintains a valid driver’s license?
Currently there is a deliberate national move to interfere with the voting rights of eligible citizens. In 38 states, legislation has been introduced that would suppress the participation and the votes of young, minority, and elderly voters. In 2011, the number of states requiring strict forms of government-issued IDs has nearly quadrupled.
Why the sudden increase? Proponents of photo ID laws claim that voter fraud is the driving force, yet there is no evidence of this kind of deception. This is simply discrimination masquerading as orderly government.
The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that one in 10 eligible registered voters do not have the forms of ID that are acceptable under these expanding state laws, and to obtain these IDs costs money. The barriers apply disproportionately to the elderly, the poor, and those with disabilities. Poll taxes were thrown out decades ago as discrimination and contrary to democratic processes. We cannot stand by and let big money and special interests manipulate the results of elections by enacting 21st-century poll taxes.
U.S. Congressman Rush Holt (D) represents New Jersey’s 12th District. A researcher and educator, he holds a Ph.D. in physics from New York University.