In his June 23 letter, Georgia’s secretary of state, Brian Kemp, said his state’s photo ID law, which requires a photo ID for in-person voting, is necessary because “every year we investigate and penalize hundreds of people guilty of election and voter fraud.” He failed to note, however, that when Georgia’s photo ID law was challenged in federal court in 2005, the state was unable to point to a single instance of fraudulent in-person voting.
He also claimed that the photo ID law does not “reduce turnout among minority groups.” Again, he did not note the federal court’s finding that the photo ID law “is most likely to prevent Georgia’s elderly, poor, and African American voters from voting. For those citizens, the character and magnitude of their injury — the loss of their right to vote — is undeniably demoralizing and extreme.”
Before the adoption of the state’s photo ID law, people without a photo ID could vote in Georgia by signing a declaration under oath that they were who they claimed to be. That law worked just fine, and it should never have been repealed by a law that serves no purpose except to suppress the votes of the elderly, the poor and African Americans. The right to vote is protected by more constitutional amendments than any right we as Americans enjoy. Unfortunately, an increasing number of states, such as Georgia, are more than willing to adopt new laws that burden and deny that right.
Laughlin McDonald, Atlanta
The writer is director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.