Congressman Elijah E. Cummings joined 13 members of Congress, led by Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, in introducing a bill to combat voter suppression efforts across the country. The America Votes Act of 2012, H.R. 6419, will allow voters to sign an affidavit attesting to their identity if they do not have the identification documents required at their polling place. A fact sheet on the bill is available here.
The bill is cosponsored by Larsen, Cummings and Reps. Mike Honda (CA-15), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Gwen Moore (WI-04), G.K. Butterfield (NC-01), James Moran (VA-08), Allyson Schwartz (PA-13), Gregory Meeks (NY-06), Xavier Becerra (CA-31), Donna Edwards (MD-04), Bob Filner (CA-51), John Lewis (GA-05), and Hansen Clarke (MI-13).
"The America Votes Act of 2012 is a commonsense bill that protects the ability of American citizens to exercise their democratic right to vote," said Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02. "There are more recorded instances of exploding toilets and shark attacks than there are of in-person voting fraud. The story of our nation is one of extending the right to vote irrespective of race or gender. We must not allow the United States to move backward to our dark history of voter intimidation and suppression."
In the past two years, 11 state legislatures have passed new voter ID laws or measures to enhance existing laws. As many as one in four African-American voters, more than one in six Hispanic voters, and about one in ten eligible voters overall do not possess a current and valid government-issued photo ID. Several independent analyses of elections have shown that in-person voter fraud is a nonissue.
"Efforts to deny any voter the right to cast a ballot are offensive to us all," said Rep. Elijah Cummings, MD-07. "I am proud to join Rep. Larsen in supporting the America Votes Act of 2012 to help ensure that the restrictive voter ID laws on the books in 33 states will not succeed in suppressing the votes of people of color and young students. Extensive and credible research has shown that such voter ID laws are unnecessary and place an additional burden on the elderly and poor who now have to acquire new IDs."