Veasey-Larsen Bill Combatting Voter Suppression Gains Momentum
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Legislation from Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) and Marc Veasey (TX-33) is gaining new momentum as a record 80 U.S. Representatives back the America Votes Act. The legislation aims to protect citizens who face disenfranchisement in more than 30 states because of voter identification laws.
“This bill would protect democracy by helping eligible voters fight back against the voter ID laws that target them,” Larsen said. “Requiring an ID may not seem like a problem at first glance, but these laws disproportionately block Latinos, African Americans, elderly individuals, transgender people, and college students from voting. Congress needs to move forward with solutions to end this targeted disenfranchisement, and I am proud 79 of my colleagues have cosponsored this legislation.”
“The wave of restrictive photo voter ID laws implemented after the Shelby decision has wrongfully denied thousands of Americans the right to vote, including, minority voters in my home state of Texas,” said Congressman Marc Veasey. “That is why it is so important that we work against these laws both in the courts and through legislation. As lawmakers, we should make it as easy as possible for voters to make their voices heard at the ballot box and offering the option to sign an affidavit meets that goal.”
As of April 2017, two-thirds of states had passed laws requiring some kind of identification from people at the polls. Voter ID laws most heavily impact citizens who face barriers to obtaining identification such as college students who move frequently, low-income individuals who may not be able to afford an ID or the time off from work it takes to obtain one, or transgender people whose gender identity may differ from their birth certificate. In fact, a 2014 study from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office indicated marked decreases both in voter turnout and in the successful processing of ballots in states that have implemented voter identification restrictions.
At the same time, numerous independent studies have shown that in-person voter fraud is extremely rare.
The America Votes Act would create new protections for voters arriving at polls, allowing them affirm their identity by submitting a sworn, written statement – just like absentee voters – even if they do not have state-required identification required. Voters would then be allowed to submit a standard, not provisional, ballot. Larsen modeled the legislation after the voting system in Washington state where voters can affirm their identity by submitting a similar written statement.
Cosponsors of the America Votes Act include Reps. Alma Adams (NC-12), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Joyce Beatty (OH-03), Sanford D. Bishop Jr. (GA-02), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Brendan F. Boyle (PA-13), Robert A. Brady (PA-01), Julia Brownley (CA-26), G.K. Butterfield (NC-01), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Salud O. Carbajal (CA-24), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Lacy Clay (MO-01), James E. Clyburn (SC-06), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Theodore E. Deutch (FL-22), Keith Ellison (MN-05), Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), John Garamendi (CA-03), Gene Green (TX-29), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Denny Heck (WA-10), James A. Himes (CT-04), Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18), Hakeem S. Jeffries (NY-08), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), William R. Keating (MA-09), Joseph P. Kennedy III (MA-04), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Ron Kind (WI-03), Al Lawson Jr. (FL-05), Barbara Lee (CA-13), John Lewis (GA-05), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Jim P. McGovern (MA-02), Gregory Meeks (NY-05), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Grace A. Napolitano (CA-32), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-at large), Beto O’Rourke (TX-16), Frank Pallone (NJ-06), Donald M. Payne (NJ-10), Scott Peters (CA-52), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Mike Quigley (IL-05), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Cedric Richmond (LA-02), Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), David Scott (GA-13), Terri Sewell (AL-07), Louise McIntosh Slaughter (NY-25), Adam Smith (WA-09), Darren Soto (FL-09), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Mark Takano (CA-41), Bennie Thompson (MS-02), Dina Titus (NV-01) Paul Tonko (NY-20), Norma J. Torres (CA-35), Niki Tsongas (MA-03), Marc A. Veasey (CA-33), Peter Welch (VT-at large), and Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24).
The bill has been endorsed by the NALEO Educational Fund, National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender Law Center.