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Hey Voters — Can You Prove You're a Citizen on Demand?

Hey Voters — Can You Prove You're a Citizen on Demand?

Who gets to vote is becoming a partisan issue, just like who gets a vote.

Mostly Republicans in 19 states have proposed legislation that would require proof of citizenship at the voting booth. Not content with the strict identification requirements recently upheld by the Supreme Court, these states want to make sure illegal immigrants are not voting, and improve voter confidence in the system.

Democratic leaders oppose strict ID laws, saying they disproportionately keep poor, disabled, elderly, and minority citizens away from the polls. Birth certificates, for example, take weeks to get, cost money, and may be difficult to track down if they are lost or kept out of state.

Missouri's secretary of state estimates that the law would disenfranchise 240,000 citizens unable to prove citizenship on such short notice. That number could be significant in November, as Missouri is a swing state that will likely go Red or Blue by a thin margin.

Do we have to protect the rights of citizens who may have difficulty obtaining proof? Which is a graver risk: letting a non-citizen vote, or keeping a citizen from exercising the voting — the quintessential act of democracy? What if we could review votes later to disqualify non-citizens, while attaching stiffer penalties for fraud?


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