In an op-ed in today’s New York Times, former president Jimmy Carter and former secretary of state James Baker answered their critics – one of them being the Times itself – concerning voter reforms they have proposed.
As reported by NewsBusters on Tuesday, the Times came out strongly against Carter and Baker’s proposals largely due to a requirement for voters to have proper identification to cast ballots. The Times’ contention was that this would have a discriminatory impact on the poor, the elderly, and minorities.
Carter and Baker don’t agree:
“Since we presented our work to the president and Congress, some have overlooked almost all of the report to focus on a single proposal - a requirement that voters have driver's licenses or government-issued photo ID's. Worse, they have unfairly described our recommendation.”
“Yes, we are concerned about the approximately 12 percent of citizens who lack a driver's license. So we proposed that states finally assume the responsibility to seek out citizens to both register voters and provide them with free ID's that meet federal standards. States should open new offices, use social service agencies and deploy mobile offices to register voters. By connecting ID's to registration, voting participation will be expanded.”
“In arguing against voter ID requirements, some critics have overlooked the larger benefit of government-issued ID's for the poor and minorities. When he spoke to the commission, Andrew Young, the former mayor of Atlanta, supported the free photo ID as away to empower minorities, who are often charged exorbitant fees for cashing checks because they lack proper identification. In a post-9/11 world, photo ID's are required to get on a plane or into a skyscraper.
“We hope that honest disagreements about a photo ID will not deflect attention from the urgency of fixing our electoral system.”