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US House passes voter ID card legislation

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives passed a bill [HR 4844 text, PDF] Wednesday 228-196 [roll call] that would require voters to present valid photo ID cards [JURIST news archive] when they head to the polls to vote in federal elections starting in 2008, thereby amending the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 [text; DOJ fact sheet]. By 2010, under the bill, voters would have to present identification that certifies they are US citizens. In addition, the bill contains a provision requiring that states provide the required documentation to indigent citizens free of charge.

Republican supporters of the measure, including US Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) [official website], one of the bill's co-sponsors and chair of the House Administration Committee [official website], said it would ensure integrity in the election process [press release] and combat fraud. Democratic opponents of the bill, such as US Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) [official website] have argued a voter ID law will disproportionately disadvantage the poor, minorities, and the elderly [statement text]. Similar bills have been struck down in various states, most recently Georgia, where a state judge Tuesday ruled the latest state voter ID law unconstitutional [JURIST report]. The House bill requires Senate passage and Presidential signature before becoming law. AP has more.

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