"We cannot afford to be apathetic when faced with an opportunity to strengthen our electoral system."
U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement after the Senate voted against reducing voter fraud. The McConnell amendment would have established a federal standard requiring voters to present a government-issued photo ID at the polls.
"The promise of America is that every law-abiding citizen has an equal stake in the political process and should be treated equally under the law. The most concrete expression of this right is the right to vote.
"As we move forward on immigration reform, we need to ensure that the constitutionally protected right of one person, one vote is preserved. By refusing to set a minimum federal standard requiring photo IDs before voting, the Senate failed to seize an opportunity to safeguard the integrity of elections for the future.
"We cannot afford to be apathetic when faced with an opportunity to strengthen our electoral system. Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and it is our duty to protect the right of American citizens to lawfully elect their representatives."
McConnell's amendment would have implemented an underlying policy recommendation of the bipartisan Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform. The Commission, headed by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, recommended using a standardized federal photo ID (commonly known as REAL ID) to verify that those who show up to vote are the people whose names appear on the voter rolls. Unlike the Carter-Baker Commission, however, this amendment would not have required a single, standardized federal ID. It would have given states flexibility in determining which government-issued photo IDs could be presented at polling locations. It also included a grant program to cover the cost of photo ID for qualified low-income voters.