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Civil Rights Group: Voter Photo IDs Unfair

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 By Michael Clifford/Eric Mack, Contact
March 15, 2007

The intended target was illegal aliens, but stricter Medicaid ID requirements seem to be forcing more U.S. citizens from Medicaid rolls, and now there is a warning that the voting booth could be next. The New York Times found it was American citizens who suffered the "largest adverse effect" from the stricter Medicaid ID requirements and not illegal immigrants. Now, voting rights advocates like Jenigh Garrett at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund say if similar nationwide ID's are required to vote, then the big decline just experienced in Medicaid could happen at the voting booth.

"These identification laws cast a net that is too broad, and can result, as it did with Medicaid, in the exclusion of qualified U.S. citizens."

A proposed national voter ID requirement made it through the House last year, but failed in the Senate. Garrett says the expense, time and travel required to meet the stricter requirements mostly affect poor voters, people of color and women. This is especially true for women who are married or are divorced.

"If the name on your birth certificate or Social Security card is your married name, then you'd have to show proof that you were married, that you had the name change, and then go back and have that double-checked against all the original records."

Federal officials say they are "unaware of any data that shows there is a significant barrier to enrollment" when it comes to Medicaid, but Garrett still maintains that the ID requirements would result in voter suppression.

"Voting rights advocates have repeatedly said that photo ID laws impact the poor, African Americans, other communities of color and the elderly. And the recent NY Times article detailing the experience of Medicaid applicants, shows that we are right."

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