Even though voter identification mandates have been ruled unconstitutional in other states, U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh told supporters in Illinois last month that voters should be required to present "proof of citizenship" before casting a ballot.
"This just seems really obvious to me," Walsh said in Palatine, Ill. last month, according to ThinkProgress. "Federal law says only U.S. citizens can vote in federal elections. We typically make this a state-by-state issue, but I don’t know why we don’t enforce that at the federal level. I don’t know why we don’t mandate at the federal level that you have to show proof of citizenship to vote."
A report released earlier this month by the Brennan Center for Justice in New York said that five million voters could be impacted by similar laws passed in Alabama, Kansas, Tennessee and Texas:
The report also projects that the new laws will have an impact on minority voters. According to the Brennan Center, African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to register to vote during voter registration drives in Florida, and new photo I.D. requirements in Texas do not include forms of identification heavily used by minorities.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker defended a voter ID law passed in his state, but a state judge said the plan was unconstitutional.
"Without question, where it exists, voter fraud corrupts elections and undermines our form of government," Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess wrote in his decision. "The legislature and governor may certainly take aggressive action to prevent its occurrence. But voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression. Indeed, they are two heads on the monster."
Illinois Republicans have proposed a similar measure, but it won't likely get very far in the Democrat-controlled statehouse.
WATCH Walsh's comments above