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US State Must Reject Voter ID Law to Protect Constitutional Rights - ACLU

© REUTERS / Rick WilkingA voter fills in her ballot as she votes in the U.S. midterm elections at a polling place in Westminster, Colorado November 4, 2014
A voter fills in her ballot as she votes in the U.S. midterm elections at a polling place in Westminster, Colorado November 4, 2014 - Sputnik International
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The American Civil Liberties Union stated that the US state of Maine must reject a proposed voter identification law in order to uphold Constitutional voting rights.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US state of Maine must reject a proposed voter identification law in order to uphold Constitutional voting rights, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a statement.

“By making it harder for certain groups to cast a ballot, burdensome voter ID laws undermine the equal protection of the Constitution and the fundamental right to vote,” ACLU Public Policy Counsel Oamshri Amarasingham said on Thursday. “If we really want to protect the integrity of elections in Maine, we should be encouraging more qualified people to vote, not making it harder for them to do so.”

A bill pending before the Maine state legislature would require voters to present photo identification before casting a ballot.

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Poor people and people of colour are less likely to possess government-issued photo identification than whites, and voter turnout decreased in states with voter identification laws, with young and minority voters disproportionately affected, according to a US Government Accountability Office study.

The proposal in Maine comes amid a nationwide wave of new bills to restrict voting since the US Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, which required states with a history of discrimination to get federal approval before enacting changes to voting laws.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, a leading research centre, reported earlier this month that state courts have struggled to beat back attacks on voting rights since the 2012 Supreme Court vote.

“Courts failed to block a number of restrictive laws last year, and without clear limits, states appear ready to move forward with harsh new measures,” the report said.

Last year saw at least 40 restrictive bills introduced in 17 US states, the report said, adding that 195 bills to expand voting rights were introduced in 25 US states and in Washington, DC.

 

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