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Posted at 08:27 AM ET, 07/12/2012

Voter ID proponents point to laws in other countries

A wave of recently-enacted voter ID laws in the U.S. has raised the ire of Democrats, who fear that requiring voters to present photo identification will disenfranchise minorities, students and seniors.

This week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court in Washington is hearing arguments on Texas’s voter ID law, which requires voters to show a photo ID before being allowed to cast their ballots, The Post’s Sari Horwitz reported.


A Libyan man holds up his voter ID card at a polling station in Benghazi, Libya, on July 7, 2012. (Ibrahim Alaguri - AP)

That’s on top of the South Carolina law, which the Justice Department has also challenged, as well as eight other states that passed voter ID laws last year.

Proponents of the law have argued that such measures are not a threat to voters’ rights because similar voter ID restrictions are in place in democracies around the world.

“If [voter fraud] is not a problem at all, how do you account for the fact that the Commission on Federal Election Reform ... recommended a voter ID requirement, and many other countries around the world have voter ID requirements?” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said during a 2005 argument in a Supreme Court case that upheld an Indiana photo ID requirement.

Do other democracies require voters to carry photo IDs when they vote?

Many do, but the laws aren’t as strict as those in Texas and South Carolina. According to a Harvard Law & Policy Review study, plenty of democracies do require voters to show identification, but many make allowances for those citizens who, for whatever reason, don’t have official government IDs.

From the report:

Poll workers in Ireland can ask voters for proof of identity, but voters have a choice of “five different forms of photo ID, in addition to bank books, credit cards, checkbooks and marriage certificates.”

In Switzerland, every registered voter is sent a registration card prior to an election, and if the voter brings her registration card to the polling place, no additional identification is needed.”

Canada permits any voter who lacks one of the allowed forms of photo identification to present two of forty-five other forms of identification or documentation that have the voter’s name and address on at least one. Acceptable documents include leases, student transcripts, and utility bills.”

Sweden’s policy is a bit more vague, requiring that a “voter who is not known to the voting clerks [produce] an identity document or in another way verify her or his identity.”

India allows the use of fifteen different types of identification, ranging from property documents to arms licenses to income tax identity cards. Included, too, are forms of identification most likely to be possessed by the poor.... For instance, voters can present ration cards issued to the poor to allow them to buy food staples and kerosene oil at subsidized prices.”

That’s in addition to many countries that don’t require ID to vote, such as “Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom (with the exception of Northern Ireland),” the authors wrote.

They also pointed out that in many other countries, it’s much easier to obtain identification than it is in the United States because ID cards are issued to all citizens automatically:

“Countries such as Spain, Greece, France, Malta, Belgium, and Italy provide national identity documents to their citizens to use for many purposes, including travel, banking, and healthcare access as well as voting.”

No waits in the DMV line required.

Read the rest of the report here.

 

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By  |  08:27 AM ET, 07/12/2012

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