Two voices on opposite sides of the voter ID debate spoke at the National Press Club. Hans Von Spakovsky served on the Federal Election Commission during the Bush Administration. Laura Murphy is Washington Legislative Office Director for the ACLU. They talked about the impact of laws requiring voters to have state-issued ID cards. Mr. Spakovsky said the laws do not suppress voter turnout and help address the problem of voter fraud, while Ms. Murphy said the laws amount to a poll tax that disproportionately impacts minority groups and the poor.
Thirty-one states have laws requiring voter identification, but some are more strict than others. Of those states, 8 have strengthened or enacted their laws within the past year. In the past in many states, voters could show a voter registration card or a utility bill at the polls to cast their vote, but now more states are making laws that require a photo ID.
Supporters of the law say that the photo ID requirement prevents fraud, but opponents say the laws single out minority groups less likely to have photo IDs. Civil liberties groups and the Justice Dept. are currently challenging voter ID laws in South Carolina, Texas, Kansas and Wisconsin.