The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I agree with Jimmy Carter about something.

He recommends photo IDs for voting. And he addresses concerns about questionable laws in certain states:

Former President Carter, a co-chair of the commission, said he was hesitant about the free photo ID proposal at first, but laws passed in some states like Georgia convinced him that a national approach was a better idea. Republican lawmakers in Georgia pushed through legislation that requires a new voter identification card that costs $20 for five years.

"Some states have passed abominable laws that are a disgrace to democracy," Carter said.

In Atlanta, voter and civil rights organizations challenged the Georgia law in federal court, contending in a suit filed Monday that it would disenfranchise minorities and the poor. Nineteen states require voters to show identification; five request photo ID, the National Conference of State Legislatures said.

The commission proposed that voters who don't have the card could cast a provisional ballot and produce the photo ID later. States also would have to promote the photo ID card aggressively.

The commission recommended improved voter registration lists, requiring a verifiable paper trail for electronic voting machines and rotating regional primaries, while warning that "Americans are losing confidence in elections."

"Some foreign countries have gone far beyond us in making sure that voting procedures and registration of voters is at a high level of true democracy," said Carter, who has monitored elections around the world.

Carter's co-chair on the private commission, former Secretary of State James Baker, acknowledged that "there is room for improvement" in a system he believes remains strong.

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