Voter photo ID bill assailed

DENVER — House Republicans gave preliminary approval Monday to a bill requiring voters to show a photo identification card when casting their ballots, prompting Democrats to ask, Why?

Republicans didn’t say they intended the bill to prevent illegal immigrants from voting, but Democrats said that was clearly their intention.

Problem is, there’s no evidence anyone is trying to cast ballots who shouldn’t, Democrats argued. All the bill would do is make it harder for those who don’t have drivers’ licenses or other common forms of ID to vote for the candidates of their choice, Democrats said.

“There seems to be an assumption that there’s something magic about an ID that has a picture on it,” said Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder. “This just seems like it’s arbitrarily restricting those who can show up and vote without appreciably improving the integrity of the voting process. It’s just going to weed people out.”

The measure’s sponsor, Rep. Ken Summers, R-Lakewood, said the point behind the bill is to ensure the state’s voting process is protected before there is a problem.

The bill does that by spelling out what forms of identification would no longer be acceptable, including utility bills, bank statements, certified naturalization documents and Medicaid cards.

“The integrity of the system needs to be protected,” said Summers. “More people become disenfranchised not because of having the proper identification to vote, but because of looking at a system that fails to have adequate safeguards in place to ensure that their vote counts.”

The bill leaves in the law identification such as state-issued drivers’ licenses and identification cards, a valid U.S. military ID card and a U.S. passport.

Rep. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora, said the issue is based on an unfounded fear that masses of illegal immigrants are clamoring to vote when they really aren’t.

“When I ask over and over for evidence, I’ve heard two or three (county) clerks say they’ve had a couple of incidents, but oftentimes what they find are people who just moved here or moved from one polling place to another,” she said. “There might legitimately be less than 0.001 percent of people who actually were trying to vote and were not registered.”

The measure requires a final House vote before heading to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where a similar bill died earlier this year.



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