By Ann Luther
We attended the public hearing (Wednesday Feb 25) in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee (VLA) of the Maine State Legislature for this year’s iteration of a Photo ID requirement to vote.
These laws have consequences. It could lower voter participation by 2% – 3%: many, many times more eligible voters will be dissuaded from voting by a photo ID requirement than the number of ineligible voters who will be prevented from casting votes. And the elderly, the poor, and the disabled will be among those most affected.
We aren’t the only ones standing against voter ID laws in Maine! We were joined in our opposition by the office of the Secretary of State, ACLU of Maine, Maine Women’s Lobby, Equality Maine, NAACP, Maine Municipal Association, Disability Rights Center, Preble Street, Homeless Voices for Justice, MaineTransNet, and the Maine chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. It was very powerful to hear so many people speak up for their right to vote.
Voting is the most fundamental expression of citizenship in our democracy. The expansion of the franchise to include all Americans regardless of race, ethnicity or gender, and the breaking down of barriers to citizens’ voter participation — from literacy tests to poll taxes — has been one of the great successes in the evolution of American democracy.
Photo ID would turn back the clock and erect unnecessary barriers to voter participation.