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February 7, 2013
HB 137 – Election Law – Qualification of Voters- Polling Places – Proof of Identity
House Ways and Means Committee
Comments: Numerous studies have found that the rare examples of voter fraud are almost never the kind that could be prevented by a photo identification law.[i] Voter ID laws address one exceedingly rare form of voter fraud: impersonation of another registered voter at the polls. There is no documentation of trends of individuals voting multiple times, voting as someone else, or voting despite knowing that they are ineligible.
Voter ID would exacerbate low voter turnout, a major problem confronting our democracy. HB 137 risks further depressing the vote of seniors, students, people of color and other citizens:
- One in five young voters don’t have a driver’s license, the most commonly accepted form of photo ID. Nationwide, a substantial percentage of individuals 18 to 29 years old do not have a valid driver’s license.[ii]
- Eighteen percent of Americans over the age of 65 do not have a photo ID. Many older people no longer drive or maintain up- to-date driver’s licenses.[iii] Seniors will be unfairly blocked from voting because they lack this most common and acceptable form of voter ID.
- Many African Americans, low-income citizens and young people do not have photo identification. A quarter of African-Americans and 15 percent of low-income voters don’t have a photo ID.[iv]
Conclusion: Maryland PIRG requests an unfavorable report on HB 137 due to the likelihood that HB 137 will have a negative impact on voter turnout, a problem of greater concern to the state of Maryland than the rare incidence of voter fraud.
[i] Justin Levitt, The Truth About Voter Fraud, Brennan Center for Justice, 2007
[ii] Brief Amicus Curiae Of Rock The Vote, National Black Law Students Association,National Black Graduate Student Association, The Feminist Majority Foundation And The Student Association For Voter Empowerment Supporting Petitioners at http://brennan.3cdn.net/b16ac2f120969adc76_rlm6i6v8w.pdf
[iii]Brief Amici Curiae Aarp And National Senior Citizens Law Center In Support Of Petitioner, at http://brennan.3cdn.net/1edc5ab89fbe9edeb8_v6m6bnrlw.pdf
[iv] Citizens Without Proof: A Survey Of Americans’ Possession Of Documentary Proof Of Citizenship And Photo Identification, Brennan Center for Justice, November 2006.
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