Sunday, March 13, 2005

Democrats walk on bill requiring photo ID to vote

By JIM GALLOWAY

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Twenty-one of 22 Democrats walked out of the Senate chamber for about 30 minutes Friday evening following a vote that lowered the number of pieces of identification acceptable for voting. Senate Bill 84 would require photo identification from the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety to vote.

Democrats said they had serious voting rights concerns about the bill and worried that elderly and the poor wouldn’t be able to get photo IDs.

Tim Golden (D-Valdosta), head of the Democratic Caucus, said, “White Democrats joined black ones to show their solidarity.”

He spoke of “the irony of getting rid of Jim Crow laws tomorrow while putting another on the books today.”

Republican sponsors of the bill said it was an effort to cut down on voter fraud. But Democratic critics compared it to the poll taxes, literacy tests and other laws aimed at suppressing black votes during segregation.

Most of the Democrats returned when the time came to vote on Sonny Perdue’s faith-based initiative, which would allow religious institutions that provide social services to compete for state funding. Critics say the resolution’s language could lead to school vouchers. The resolution calls for a constitutional amendment which would require a two-thirds majority. Some Democrats would have to support the resolution for it to pass.

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