Wednesday, December 17, 2008

GOP Plans Another Attempt to Require ID, Proof of Citizenship Before Voting

Statehouse Republicans will again attempt in the 2009 legislative session to convince the General Assembly to adopt bills requiring prospective voters to show identification and prove their U.S. citizenship.

One of the two anticipated measures, which were announced by the senate GOP communications office today, would force voters to show a photo identification issued by the state or federal government before being allowed to cast a ballot. The other would require submission of documents that are evidence of U.S. citizenship such as a birth certificate, certificate of naturalization, social security card, or passport.

“We have a responsibility as state lawmakers to protect the integrity of our elections,” Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, and the expected sponsor of the photo ID bill, said. “People have an expectation that the voting process is secure and fair, these bills strive to meet those ends.”

Other Republicans intend to argue that the state's current election system poses too much risk of voting by persons who are not citizens of the United States, according to the release sent out by the senate GOP caucus.

El Paso County clerk and recorder Bob Balink has been a vocal advocate for legislation that would give clerks and recorders more ability to deny voter registration where citizenship cannot be proved to officials' satisfaction.

However, his aggressive stance on the issue has been attacked by Democrats, who argue that no evidence of widespread electoral participation by people who are not U.S. citizens has ever been found.

Sen.-elect Mark Scheffel, R-Parker, says he does not think the issue should be controversial at all.

"Only citizens are allowed to vote in Colorado--or anywhere else in the country, so it only makes sense that people wanting to participate in elections should have to prove their citizenship when registering to vote,” Scheffel said. “I don’t think that’s too much to ensure only citizens vote in our elections."

Similar measures were defeated in the General Assembly last year.