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Letter to the Editor: Vote 'no' to Voter ID

A recent newsletter from the American Civil Liberties Union started out this way: "More than 40 years after the Voting Rights Act put an official end to widespread discriminatory voting practices that disenfranchised millions of people, especially African Americans, we are again seeing a nationwide and systemic attack on the right to vote."

My first thought upon reading this statement was the realization that I am now old enough to have had first hand experiences of what was happening 40 years ago. That's not to say I was always paying attention to the big picture. Like most of us, my personal life was more interesting.

However, I do remember people leaving New York City, where I was living at the time, and going south to help register black voters. And I knew it was a dangerous job.

The 2008 presidential election saw an unprecedented voter turnout - approximately five million more voters went to the polls in 2008 than in 2004. That turnout was also the most racially diverse in American history, with African-American, Latino, and Asian-American citizens voting in record numbers. And I thought that was a good cause for celebration and ample justification for the dangerous task of voter registration that had been undertaken by members of my generation over 40 years ago.

Unfortunately, since 2008, dozens of laws have been enacted, state by state, to make it harder for people to vote. This seems to me like a giant step backwards. The main reason for these laws appears to be concern about voter fraud.

But, as the ACLU newsletter points out, "documented cases of voter fraud are almost nonexistent - nationally, the Department of Justice found just 26 cases of voter fraud over a three-year period." To me, that doesn't seem like justification enough to keep five million voters from the ballot box.

I believe this new law is unnecessary and I plan to vote 'no.'