Sen. Daschle: REAL ID Is A Modern Day Poll Tax

[UPDATE: Sen. Daschle responded to your comments earlier today. Here’s a photo of him blogging from ThinkProgress headquarters.]

Today we’re reminded of the life of Rosa Parks and her commitment to freedom and opportunity for all Americans. She inspired us with her actions, not just with her words. She reminds us with her life that only through action and commitment to the principles of our constitution will we succeed in fulfilling the aspirations of our nation’s founders.

Rosa Parks tried to register to vote for the first time in 1943. Because of onerous requirements, she was denied that basic constitutional right until her third try in 1945.

That is my test for any election reform — does is empower voters like this heroic woman? Or does it raise needless impediments to her voting?


I have been very concerned about the increasing calls for States to use the new REAL ID driver’s license for voter identification at the polls.

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) already addresses the potential for fraudulent registration by individuals claiming to be someone they are not. I have not yet heard evidence that this reform is not working. Nor have I heard that the potential for fraud in voter registration or multiple voting will not be addressed once States fully implement the HAVA requirement for computerized, statewide registration lists.

REAL ID is a driver’s license, not a citizenship or a voting card. At this moment, 12% of the voting age population lacks a driver’s license — and you could expect that number to be much higher among the poor and others who have faced numerous challenges as they have tried to exercise their right to vote.

The documents required by REAL ID to secure a driver’s license include a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers, a photo identity document, and proof of Social Security number.

Obtaining such documents can be difficult, even for those not displaced by the devastation of a hurricane.

For all these reasons, I have come to the conclusion that for some, a requirement for photo identification constitutes nothing short of a modern day poll tax.

— Tom Daschle