9/19/2005

Daily Kos: Stop James Baker, III from Doing It Again

I just knew James Baker was up to his old tricks! Picture IDs would eliminate poor voters as efficiently as Katrina -- law


Stop James Baker, III from Doing It Again
by Congressman John Conyers
Mon Sep 19th, 2005 at 07:32:55 CDT

Update [2005-9-19 11:0:33 by Congressman John Conyers]: Dissenting Commissioners Have established a website where you can read more http://www.carterbakerdissent.com

Update [2005-9-19 14:33:21 by Congressman John Conyers]: The League of Women Voters has issued a press release in opposition to the report. (http://press.arrivenet.com/pol/article.php/694900.html)

One of the things I have admired about the netroots of the Democratic party has been the awareness of internet activists that elections are often won or lost weeks or months before election day. I applaud you for concentrating on whether we put up a fight in every district across the United States. I also applaud your commitment to fundamental fairness in the democratic process. We have long known that the more eligible voters who are able to vote, the better it is for Democrats.

The Republicans know it too. That is why they have elevated their efforts to stack the deck in their favor, even if it means disenfranchising voters, to an art form. A substantial move in that direction is being proposed this morning in a report by the so-called Baker-Carter Commission.

* Congressman John Conyers's diary :: ::
*

I have spent my more than 40 years in public service fighting for voting rights and a better democracy. Today, I am sad to say, there are proposals being made that would set us back in that struggle. A privately funded, unaccountable Commission organized by former Bush-Cheney campaign lawyer James Baker, III, and former President Jimmy Carter issued a report today that includes policy proposals that will disenfranchise over ten percent of eligible voters -a national ID requirement to vote. I need your help to fight this 21st Century poll tax today.

This Commission has come forward with a number of recommendations. Some may have merit, others may not. But this recommendation alone should give anyone who cares about our democracy great pause. That is why I predict it will be a focal point of opposition for a number of elected officials and for groups who have fought for voting rights.

The simple fact is that many minority and poor voters do not have the time, money or need to purchase a drivers license. In fact, over ten percent of eligible voters in the last election did not have a photo ID. They vote by presenting other means of identification (a voter registration card, utility bill, or affidavit). This Commission is now asking Congress to deny the franchise to those voters unless they get a national ID card. The Commission makes the implausible claim that, in these times of a multibillion dollar war in Iraq and multibillion dollar restoration of the Gulf Coast, the Congress will pay for ID cards for those who cannot afford to buy them. We know this is not going to happen.

Even if you are not among these vulnerable populations, this affects you. The institution of a National ID card has throughout our history been the tool of every despotic regime the world has known. This recommendation, coupled with the Commission's recommendation of interoperable data bases of voters, is the first step toward data bases of American citizens.

Make no mistake about it, this national ID voting card is more of the same old Ken Blackwell-style Republican electoral dirty tricks, where Democratic voters are deliberately disenfranchised so that Republicans can win elections. Remember the lack of voting machines in Ohio for Democratic voters? Remember the machines that broke down or registered strange numbers of votes for George Bush or unknown third party candidates? Remember Ken Blackwell's paper weight requirements for voter registration cards?

Imagine if the Republican party can, in one fell swoop, legally prohibit more than ten percent of voters, most of them poor, minority and elderly voters, most of them Democratic voters, from being able to vote. Even if every single voting machine in the United States utilized voter verified paper ballots, it would not matter, as more than ten percent of voters would not even be allowed to touch those machines.

Daily Kos: Stop James Baker, III from Doing It Again

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