Empowered by last year’s elections, Republican leaders in about half the states are pushing to require voters to show photo ID at the polls despite little evidence of fraud and already-substantial punishments for those who vote illegally.
Democrats claim the moves will disenfranchise poor and minority voters — many of whom traditionally vote for their candidates. The measures will also increase spending and oversight in some states even as Republicans are focused on cutting budgets and decreasing regulations.
Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, a Republican, said he believes his state’s proposed photo ID law will increase citizen confidence in the process and combat fraud that could be going undetected. “I can’t figure out who it would disenfranchise,” Hargett said. “The only people I can think it disenfranchises is those people who might be voting illegally.”
Hargett said the measure currently moving through Tennessee’s legislature — now controlled by Republicans — would accommodate people who don’t have IDs by having them sign oaths of identity, which provide more prominent warning to potential fakers than the standard name-signing. Party leaders advanced several ID proposals this week with successful votes in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Ohio and Texas.