April 1, 2011- With voter ID laws popping up in Republican-controlled statehouses across the country, could a federal bill be far off?
According to data from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, at least 27 state-level voter ID bills — from Alaska and Arizona to Wisconsin and West Virginia — have been proposed in recent months.
"It's unbelievable, probably half the states in the country have bills in play and more than a dozen are seriously in the pipeline," Tova Wang of the left-leaning think tank Demos told TPM in an interview. "It's really unprecedented in terms of geographic scope. I've never seen anything like it certainly since I've been working on voting rights issues that voter suppression bills would be introduced in so many places at the same time."
"Definitely students are a target here. It's totally clear to me that you saw in 2008 this unprecedented historic turnout among African-Americans, Latinos and young people — and those happen to be the exact groups of people that are being targeted by these laws to disenfranchise them, and that's really sad," Wang said.
Wang said the most restrictive bills are in Ohio and Wisconsin, which Wang said require identification issued by the DMV. "Perhaps most interestingly, it doesn't even include student ID even from schools that are public universities," she said.
"This apparently concerted effort on the part of Republicans in state legislatures nationwide to effectively suppress voting is as disturbing as it is un-democratic," said Carolyn Fiddler, spokesperson for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, an arm of the Democratic Party charged with boosting the number of Democrats in state governments. "Additionally, these restrictive measures are often costly and do nothing to balance state budgets and create jobs, which are the top priorities in statehouses across the country right now."
So with Republicans in control of the House of Representatives, could a federal bill be far off? That's what Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) indicated in an interview with KTXS News. But Neugebauer spokesman Matt Crow told TPM the congressman "misspoke" and that there was "no such bill on the horizon."
Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS), chairman of House Subcommittee on Elections, held a hearing this week to examine reports of voting by non-citizens and raised the specter of voter fraud.