Larsen Bill Will Combat Voter Suppression by Providing a Better Option to Voter ID Laws

Apr 25, 2013

WASHINGTON—Voters facing disenfranchisement because of new voter identification laws in several states will see relief if a bill authored by Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, is enacted. Larsen today reintroduced the America Votes Act of 2013 which would allow voters to sign an sworn written statement attesting to their identity if they do not have the ID required at their polling place. A fact sheet on the bill is available here.

“The America Votes Act of 2013 is a straightforward bill that protects Americans’ fundamental right to vote,” Larsen said. “One of my top priorities in Congress is to break down the barriers for all people to fully participate in the economy and democracy. This bill fights back against voter identification laws which are designed to intimidate and disenfranchise legitimate voters.”

“Voter ID laws are, at best, a solution in search of a problem,” Larsen added. “There are more recorded instances of exploding toilets and shark attacks than there are of in-person voting fraud. But voter ID laws could enact another barrier for hundreds of thousands of eligible voters. As many as one in four African-American voters, more than one in six Hispanic voters, and about one in 10 eligible voters overall do not possess a current and valid government-issued photo ID.”

The bill has the support of 34 other members of Congress: Corrine Brown, FL-05, Earl Blumenauer, OR-03, Barbara Lee, CA-13, Diana DeGette, CO-01, Keith Ellison, MN-05, Raul M. Grijalva, AZ-03, Mike Honda, CA-17, Sam Farr, CA-20, Judy Chu, CA-27, Adam Smith, WA-09, Xavier Becerra, CA-34, Steve Cohen, TN-09, Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC-AL, John Lewis, GA-05, Madeleine Bordallo, GU-AL, Allyson Schwartz, PA-13, Bobby Rush, IL-01, Hank Johnson, GA-04, Ted Deutch, FL-21, Gwen Moore, WI-04, Jackie Speier, CA-14, Stephen F. Lynch, MA-08, André Carson, IN-07, Charles B. Rangel, NY-13, Paul Tonko, NY-20, Wm. Lacy Clay, MO-01, G.K. Butterfield, NC-01, Tony Cardenas, CA-29, Suzan DelBene, WA-01, Elijah Cummings, MD-07, Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., GA-02, Jim McDermott, WA-07, Jose Serrano, NY-15, and Frederica Wilson, FL-24.

Several groups have endorsed the bill, including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Demos, the American Association of University Women-Everett, and the Economic Opportunity Institute.

“Demos is happy to endorse the America Votes Act,” said Brenda Wright, Vice President for Legal Strategies at Demos. “It’s commonsense legislation to ensure that all eligible persons can cast a ballot that will count.”

“The America Votes Act of 2013 is a commonsense bill which would help address the real challenges faced by many at the polls in the wake of increasingly harsh and unnecessary restrictive voter ID laws,” said Tanya Clay House, director of public policy for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Far too many eligible voters do not possess the necessary photo ID; hence are turned away at the polls or made to cast a provisional ballot which is far less likely to be counted. This bill would provide a simple, universal method to ensure voters are afforded the equal opportunity all Americans deserve when they access the polls in order to exercise their fundamental right to vote.”

Thirty states are considering legislation on voter ID requirements, including 12 states that are putting forth new voter ID requirements. Several independent analyses of elections have shown that in-person voter fraud is a nonissue.

A fact sheet on the bill is available here. The text of the bill is available here.