Connecticut's voter identification laws should be correctly and consistently applied but that's not what happened in the 2012 presidential election, Andrew Schneider, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut, told a legislative committee.

He testified in favor of House Bill 5480, which would require that Connecticut's voter identification requirements be posted at all polling places. Connecticut requires identification to vote, but it does not have to be a driver's license or other photo identification.

Posting the rules in plain view  would help prevent the kinds of problems that arose in 2012, Schneider said, citing several reports brought to the attention of the ACLU of Connecticut. These included:

  • At a polling place in Bethel, a voter reported that poll workers insisted he show them a photo ID and would not admit him to the polls until he did so, under protest.
  • In East Haven a voter was told that her ID with name and address was not sufficient and she was required to fill out an identity form before voting.
  • In Old Saybrook, Andy Schatz, president of the ACLU of Connecticut, intervened after he talked with a woman who was not permitted to vote with a credit card and was required to return with a driver’s license. The moderator agreed that she should have been allowed to vote with the credit card and said he would so instruct the poll workers.
  • In Farmington, poll workers at one polling place insisted to a local reporter that photo identification is always required to vote. At another polling place in Farmington, voters reported being able to vote with other forms of identification.
  • In Sharon, an email from the town in advance of the election said "please bring photo identification."

Schneider reminded legislators that many people don't have photo identification, and that those people will be disenfranchised if poll workers erroneously insist they produce it. Most of these people are elderly, poor or members of minority groups.

"Census data show that 23 percent of households in Bridgeport have no access to a motor vehicle and therefore members of those households have no reason to have a license; the figure is 27 percent in New Haven and 39 percent in Hartford," Schneider said. "Nationwide, the Brennan Institute for Justice estimates that 11 percent of citizens who are eligible to vote lack photo identification."

The bill would also clarify the authority of the secretary of the state to set policy for the application of election laws, which Schneider said could help prevent other problems that would threaten the right to vote.

 

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