House vote shows Congress is out of touch with pressing election problems

Today’s House passage of a bill that would require all voters to obtain and show government-issued photo ID that proves their citizenship demonstrates how out of touch Congress is with the nation’s real problems.

Our election systems are in shambles. Electronic voting machines — which will be used by nearly 80 percent of voters nationwide in November — are unreliable and many lack paper trails, poll workers are inadequately trained and partisan election officials are overseeing Election Day, to name just a few problems.

Yet the House response in HR 4844, the so-called “Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006,” is to erect more hurdles for voters, while ignoring problems that threaten to undermine the results of our elections, the centerpiece of our democracy.

“We have serious systemic election problems, but people pretending to be someone else at the polls is not one of them,” Common Cause President Chellie Pingree said. “Congress should focus on the real problems that have shaken Americans’ confidence in voting, such as requiring a voter verified paper trail in case electronic machines malfunction, or assuring poll workers get more training.”

HR 4844 would disenfranchise and discourage tens of thousands of legal voters, particularly minorities, disabled voters and the elderly, groups of people who may not have a driver’s license or the documents needed to get one. This is an expensive and impossible task for many.

Today’s vote follows a ruling by a Georgia state judge who rejected a similar law in that state.