ACLU Questions Carter-Baker Voting Commission's Recommendations

September 19, 2005 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – Citing civil rights concerns, the American Civil Liberties Union today raised serious concerns about several recommendations of a voting commission led by former president Jimmy Carter and former secretary of state James A. Baker III. The Carter-Baker recommendations seek to build public trust in the electoral system, yet several provisions may disenfranchise potential voters and undermine privacy.

The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“Though intended to improve the democratic process, several of the voting commission’s recommendations will have a chilling effect on voter participation and access. For instance, the commission recommends requiring photo identification in order for citizens to vote, which will disproportionately impact the poor and the elderly, who may not have drivers’ licenses or access to a location where they can obtain IDs. Additionally, the proposed database in which states can share voter identification information raises serious concerns about protecting Americans’ private information.

“Furthermore, the commission failed to hold a truly transparent and democratic process – only two hearings were held, and the public was not given then the opportunity to comment. Had it had a more open process, some of these civil rights concerns could have been properly addressed, rather than discounted by the current report.

“In reviewing the Carter-Baker panel’s recommendations, Congress must guarantee not only the right to vote, but the right to privacy as well.”

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