ACLU Challenges Albuquerque Voter ID Law

Affiliate: ACLU of New Mexico
November 2, 2005 12:00 am

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ALBUQUERQUE –The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico filed a lawsuit today asking a federal court to declare Albuquerque’s recently passed Voter ID Amendment “unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.”

The new law requires people who vote in person to present a “current valid identification card containing the voter’s name and photograph.” Among the acceptable forms of identification are a driver’s license, a credit card, and a voter identification card issued by the City Clerk. Absentee voters are exempt from any photo ID requirements.

“If you’re poor or homeless, there’s a good chance you don’t have any of the permissible forms of identification,” said ACLU Executive Director Peter Simonson. “Wealth shouldn’t determine your ability to participate in democracy. Americans shouldn’t have to jump through unnecessary hoops to exercise their constitutionally-guaranteed right to vote.”

In contrast to the in-person voting requirement under the Voter ID Amendment, an application for an absentee ballot only requires voters to provide their names, addresses, and the last four digits of their Social Security number. No photo ID requirement applies and the ballot may be cast by mail or delivered in person.

“Why should people who actually show their faces at the polling place suffer more rigorous identification requirements than someone who votes from a distance? It doesn’t make sense. We’re creating two classes of voters. The Constitution doesn’t permit that,” Simonson said.

The ACLU lawsuit coincides with today’s decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that blocked a similar law in Georgia. Like the Albuquerque law, Georgia’s photo ID requirements only applied to in-person voters. Simonson said the Georgia decision “sets a very good precedent for our case.”

ACLU staff attorney George Bach is litigating the case along with James Scarantino, Joseph Kennedy, and Shannon Oliver. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the ACLU of New Mexico and voter Barbara Grothus.

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