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A Federal Voter ID Law: Indiana's Messer Proposes It, Democrats Object

Why the head of the Democratic Party in Indiana says there are several reasons to say no

WASHINGTON, D.C.--When you go to vote in Indiana you take your government-issued ID. But, for many reasons, people in other states don't have to have their ID to vote. Indiana's Rep. Luke Messer (R) wants to change that and make it a federal law that you must have your ID.

The Election Integrity Act of 2017 (H.R. 2090) would require voters to present a valid, government-issued photo ID in order to vote in federal elections beginning in 2020.  If you are unable to pay the cost of obtaining a government-issued photo ID, the bill requires states to provide the individual with a valid photo ID free of charge.

Modeled off Indian's law

The Election Integrity Act is modeled after Indiana’s voter identification law enacted in 2005 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2008. Messer helped advance Indiana’s voter identification law while serving in the Indiana General Assembly, said a news release from his office.

“Many Hoosiers are surprised to know voters in some states don’t have to show any form of identification to vote in national elections,” said Messer. 

“This legislation is a common-sense fix to provide consistency in voter ID laws, uphold the integrity of our federal elections and improve voter confidence in the process. It also ensures voters who genuinely can't afford a photo ID can obtain one without charge to them.”

Why Democrats object

But, John Zody, chairman of the Indiana Democratic Parety, doesn't believe there's any common sense to it at all.

“Congressman Messer’s new bill is more concerned with his political grandstanding than its constitutional foundations or its real world consequences. At best, it would trample on states’ Tenth Amendment rights and create a massive unfunded mandate that requires states to pay for new IDs for millions of voters who need them," said Zody in a statement.

In an interview with WIBC, Zody explained his Tenth Amendment objection.

"I believe it could be a Tenth Amendment issue when we're talking about the ability of states to do something that the federal government shouldn't be doing," said Zody. He said that the new bill calls for voter ID in federal elections only and that could cause problems at the polling places in states where you don't have to have an ID to vote.

"At worst, his bill would be an attack on the hard-earned right to vote of millions of Americans and would pick winners and losers with who gets to vote in what elections. With so many pressing issues facing Congress right now, why is Congressman Messer focused on taking away the states’ constitutionally-given control of elections in order to build his profile as he eyes a higher office?”

The ones that do it and the ones that don't

According to the Congressional Research Service, Indiana is one of 18 states that currently requires a photo ID for in-person voting. Eighteen other states and the District of Columbia do not require a voter to provide any ID to vote. 

Under Messer’s bill, if an individual does not present a photo ID at the time they are voting, they may cast a provisional ballot and present their ID within 10 days. 

States like Indiana that already have similar photo ID laws in effect can be exempted from the law, said Messer.

PHOTO: Thinkstock/Zerbor

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