A group of nearly 20 Republican state senators in Illinois have quietly thrown their support behind legislation that would require the state's voters to present a government-issued photo identification card to an election judge upon voting -- a requirement that currently only applies to early voters.
State Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) last fall filed Senate Bill 2496 and in the months since then, fellow Republican state senators have also signed onto the measure. Earlier this month, the bill was assigned to a subcommittee but has failed to gain much additional traction.
McCarter told talk radio station WSOY that he introduced the bill out of concern for "the well-known problems with voter fraud" in the state but has been disappointed to see the proposal "held up in a Senate committee and will likely not be debated in full public view on the Senate floor."
"State government could do more to combat [fraud]," McCarter told WSOY.
The Chicago Reporter last week said the proposal -- and a similar measure, House Bill 3903, introduced in the state House of Representatives by state Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Edwardsville) -- "could end up keeping some of Illinois' poorest residents from exercising one of their basic democratic rights–voting."
Voter identification bills said by their proponents to combat voter fraud have proven popular in recent years. A number of states including South Carolina, Wisconsin and some 32 others introduced various proposals in 2011, even as the critics say such requirements resemble a poll tax and suppress voters.
Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday said that the federal government must be careful to avoid the negative impact that the requirements have on the ability of minorities, the elderly and young people in particular to vote.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz also criticized such proposals as "efforts by the Republican party to limit the right to vote for political gain." The DNC has, in turn, launched an initiative aimed at educating voters on the restrictive laws.