Alert: H370/H372 Relative to Voting Laws in Massachusetts


Submit written testimony against these voter id bills, which will result in voter suppression in the state of MA. Hearing at the State House on June 8, 2017 at 1PM in A-2. Below is a ‘cut-n-paste’ email list of the Joint Election Laws Committee, as well as an email to copy and paste. If you can, please take the time to personalize the email message.

Background H370 | Background H372 | Committee Members | Talking PointsEmail

Voter identification laws are a part of an ongoing strategy to roll back decades of progress on voting rights.  Thirty-four states have identification requirements at the polls. Seven states have strict photo ID laws, under which voters must present one of a limited set of forms of government-issued photo ID in order to cast a regular ballot – no exceptions.

Voter ID laws deprive many voters of their right to vote, reduce participation, and stand in direct opposition to our country’s trend of including more Americans in the democratic process. Many Americans do not have one of the forms of identification states acceptable for voting. These voters are disproportionately low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and people with disabilities.  Such voters more frequently have difficulty obtaining ID, because they cannot afford or cannot obtain the underlying documents that are a prerequisite to obtaining government-issued photo ID card.

H370: an act relative to voter ID.

This bill would require voters registering to vote to present sufficient documentation to the town clerk proving U.S. citizenship.

Read the full text of the bill here.

Arguments for this bill: This bill is proposed by Rep. Brad Hill of Ipswich. I have a query into his office to find out what problem this bill would solve, and what the goals of this bill are. I will update when I get a response.

Arguments against: This creates another barrier to voting which disproportionately impacts minorities.

H372 – An Act Requiring Photo ID for Voting

This bill requires presentation of a photo ID issued by the state of Massachusetts or US Government in order to cast a vote. Those unable to present the proper ID can cast a ‘provisional’ ballot. The ID must be presented to the acceptable authority with 8 days of the election or the vote is forfeited. The bill allows for the distribution of state IDs to indigent persons, as defined in the bill.

Read the full text here.

A NYTimes article on voter ID laws.

Arguments for: Proponents of voter ID laws argue that they reduce electoral fraud while placing only little burden on voters.

Arguments against: This is an age-old tactic to reduce voter turnout by erecting barriers to voting, and recent studies show these laws have an impact along racial lines.

Link to study done at UC San Diego, Voter ID Laws & the Suppression of Minority Votes.

Link to The Atlantic, How Voter ID Laws Discriminate: A new comprehensive study finds evidence that strict voting laws do suppress the ballot along racial lines.

…Specifically, they found “that strict photo identification laws have a differentially negative impact on the turnout of Hispanics, Blacks, and mixed-race Americans in primaries and general elections.”

Talking Points

  • Millions of Americans Lack ID. 11% of U.S. citizens – or more than 21 million Americans – do not have government-issued photo identification.
  • Obtaining ID Costs Money. Even if ID is offered for free, voters must incur numerous costs (such as paying for birth certificates, travel expenses, child care, transportation) to apply for a government-issued ID.
  • Voter ID Laws Reduce Voter Turnout. A 2014 GAO study found that strict photo ID laws reduce turnout by 2-3 percentage points, which can translate into tens of thousands of votes lost in a single state.
  • Minority voters disproportionately lack ID. Nationally, up to 25% of African-American citizens of voting age lack government-issued photo ID, compared to only 8% of whites.
  • States exclude forms of ID in a discriminatory manner. Texas allows concealed weapons permits for voting, but does not accept student ID cards. Until its voter ID law was struck down, North Carolina prohibited public assistance IDs and state employee ID cards, which are disproportionately held by Black voters. And until recently, Wisconsin permitted active duty military ID cards, but prohibited Veterans Affairs ID cards for voting.
  • Voter ID laws are enforced in a discriminatory manner. A Caltech/MIT study found that minority voters are more frequently questioned about ID than are white voters.
  • Voter ID laws reduce turnout among minority voters. Several studies, including a 2014 GAO study, have found that photo ID laws have a particularly depressive effect on turnout among racial minorities and other vulnerable groups, worsening the participation gap between voters of color and whites.
  • In-person fraud is vanishingly rare.
  • Identified instances of “fraud” are honest mistakes. So-called cases of in-person impersonation voter “fraud” are almost always the product of an elections worker or a voter making an honest mistake, and that even these mistakes are extremely infrequent.
  • Voter ID laws are a waste of taxpayer dollars. States incur sizeable costs when implementing voter ID laws, including the cost of educating the public, training poll workers, and providing IDs to voters.

Committee Members

Cut & paste these addresses to the Joint Committee on Election Laws,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Email Template

Please use the info below as a template. Cut & paste, or print and mail, but please personalize!

The Honorable Anne M. Gobi, Chair
Senate Committee on Election Laws
24 Beacon Street
Room 513
Boston, MA 02133

Representative John Mahoney, Chair
House Committee on Election Laws
24 Beacon Street
Room 443
Boston, MA 02133

Re:  H370 (Hill) – An Act relative to Voter Identification; H372 (Jones) – An Act Requiring Photo ID for Voting

Dear Chairwoman Gobi, Chairman Mahoney, and Members of the Committee:

I am writing to express my opposition to both H370, authored by Representative Hill, which would require voter identification in order to register to vote; and H372, authored by Rep. Jones, which would require presentation of an approved photo ID to vote.

Voter ID laws have grown at an epidemic rate and they have a disproportionately negative impact on minority citizens. It is time to stand up for justice by opposing these egregious laws. According to a recent study conducted at UC San Diego, “The analysis shows that strict photo identification laws have a differentially negative impact on the turnout of Hispanics, Blacks, and mixed-race Americans in primaries and general elections. Voter ID laws skew democracy in favor of whites and those on the political right.” Voter ID laws are voter suppression by another name.

Kansas and Alabama require eligible voters to provide proof of citizenship before registering. Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia have cut short early voting periods. Florida and Iowa prevented all ex-offenders from the polls, disenfranchising thousands of previously eligible voters. Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Mississippi and Idaho all require voters to produce a government-issued ID before casting ballots.

U.S. Department of Justice for the first time since 1994 exercised its powers under the Voting Rights Act to block a voter identification law in South Carolina. The DOJ stated that allowing the new voter ID laws would cause “significant racial disparities.” DOJ noted that in South Carolina, using South Carolina’s own analysis, 81,938 minority citizens who are already registered lack the IDs required by the new laws and these voters are nearly 20% more likely be effectively disenfranchised.

We must support and protect voting rights in Massachusetts. If we don’t defend the vote, we don’t have a voice. Everyone has a voice and has the right to be heard. These laws stand in direct opposition to encouraging and sustaining a participatory democracy.

Just as important, voter ID laws represent a solution in search of a problem. In person voter fraud is extremely rare, and those instances identified as ‘fraud’ are honest mistakes – and even these mistakes are rare. Voter ID laws are a waste of taxpayer dollars. States incur costs such as educating the public, training poll workers, and providing IDs to voters. [Texas spent nearly $2M on voter education and outreach, and Indiana spent of $10M producing free ID cards between 2007-2010.]

Let’s put our taxpayer dollars to better use, and keep the polls accessible. Let’s work to expand voter registration to allow more people to have a say in our democracy. In the words of Michael Liu, “we are all better off when we’re all better off”.

Please oppose H370 & H372. Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts.

City, Zip

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