Myers proposes identification requirement for Md. voters

March 08, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

ANNAPOLIS - Voters would have to show identification cards at the polls, under a bill heard by a Maryland House committee Wednesday.

Currently, Maryland law says election judges must confirm a voter's identity by asking for his or her date of birth, then comparing it to a registry.

A bill sponsored by Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, would force voters to present "a voter notification card, a driver's license, or an identification card issued by the Motor Vehicle Administration" to an election judge.

Otherwise, a voter must show any other form of government-issued ID that has the person's name, address and date of birth.


However, voters who have none of those forms of ID simply may state their date of birth, which is the current standard.

At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing Wednesday, Lu Pierson, representing the League of Women Voters of Maryland, questioned both the need for the bill and its logic.

She said it seems to be trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist. "We see no evidence whatsoever that impersonation is a problem on Election Day," she said.

Benjamin Blustein, a staff attorney for the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said requiring ID to vote would affect minorities, the elderly and poor people more than others.

He mentioned a report by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. The study showed that around 10 to 12 percent of the country's eligible voters don't have a government-issued photo ID.

In written testimony, Sergio A. Lopez of the nonprofit People For the American Way cited a study by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. The study, Lopez wrote, indicated that voter turnout in the 2004 election was lower in states with ID requirements at the polls, especially for minorities.

A fiscal and policy note prepared by the Maryland Department of Legislative Services says photo ID requirements for voting were struck down on state constitutional grounds last year in Missouri and Georgia, but challenges in Arizona and Indiana were unsuccessful.

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