DENVER (AP) – A Republican proposal to require Colorado voters to show photo IDs before casting their ballots got preliminary approval Monday, despite arguments from Democrats who said the bill would disenfranchise voters.
Lawmakers debated the bill for more than 40 minutes, with Republicans saying the measure was necessary to prevent non-citizens from voting and to stop voter impersonation. Democrats countered that bill is unnecessary and that there is no proof of widespread voter fraud.
House Bill 1003 passed on second reading in the House and faces a final vote there before heading to the Senate.
Democrats say the ID requirement is a voter suppression technique that will most likely affect minorities, the elderly, and students who are able to vote. Under the bill, voters would be required to show a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or a passport to be able to vote. Other forms of identification without photos, such as a bank statement, utility bill, or paycheck, would be removed from the list of acceptable identification to vote.
Rep. Claire Levy, a Boulder Democrat, said the bill is “a solution in search of a problem.”
“This bill is a hurdle that many people will not be able to get over to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Levy said.
Levy said that requiring IDs to vote does nothing to improve the integrity of voting because voter rolls at ballot locations list names, addresses and other identifying information but no photographs to match to an ID.
Rep. Amy Stephens, the Republican House majority leader, disagreed with Levy.
“Seriously? You’re telling me that IDs don’t help? I’m sorry but I beg to differ,” Stephens said. “Any time that we can have more ID, more things for people to take a look at, it’s good. It’s good for voting, it’s good for Colorado.”
Colorado lawmakers have debated the issue of requiring photo IDs to vote before but this is the furthest the bill has made it in years.
The proposal will face a tough challenge in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Senate President Brandon Shaffer wouldn’t comment on the House bill Monday. However, he said he would send the bill to the committee on State, Veterans, & Military Affairs, which already killed a similar proposal. That Senate committee is known to be the place where Republican proposals go to die.
– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)