GOP "Voter ID" laws would disenfranchise millions of voters

July 08, 2011

Michael DeCicco's characterization of Democratic opposition to GOP "Voter ID" proposals as an attack on the integrity of the ballot box is so misleading as to be offensive ("Democrats also have ways to suppress the vote," July 6). Contrary to his claims, the very proposals he espouses would represent a serious threat to voter participation — at extraordinary taxpayer expense.

Proponents of so-called "Voter ID" laws claim they are necessary to prevent voter fraud. But they are unable to provide any evidence to support that claim. In fact, former President Bush launched a high-profile, multi-year investigation into alleged voter fraud and found virtually no evidence it was a widespread phenomenon. Between 2002 and 2005, just 24 people were convicted of or pled guilty to illegal voting in federal elections — hardly a crisis of democracy.

Rather than curtail a non-existent epidemic of "voter fraud," voter ID laws would disenfranchise millions of voters, including as many as 300,000 voting-age African Americans in Maryland. In order to implement the law, Maryland would have to spend nearly $21 million over four years, based on estimates from the state's Department of Legislative Services — dollars that could otherwise be invested in education, innovation and public safety.

Like Mr. DeCicco, I'm pleased that Republicans are encouraging young Baltimoreans to go to the polls; as a resident of Baltimore's 46th Legislative District, I'm keenly aware of the impact their participation can have. But to do so while also advocating policies that would disenfranchise countless Baltimore voters at enormous taxpayer expense is the worst kind of political double-talk.

Ian P. Hines, Baltimore

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