For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 19, 2005

Statement by the President on the Carter-Baker Commission

I greatly appreciate the excellent work of the bipartisan Commission in identifying ways to strengthen the integrity of the voting process.  It is critical to maintain America's trust in our election system, and I look forward to reviewing this report and working with Congress on the recommendations.

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For Immediate Release
September 19, 2005

Contact: Amaya Smith

Dean Statement on Baker-Carter Commission Report
National Voter ID Would Disenfranchise Millions of Voters

Washington, DC - Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean issued the following statement in response to the report issued by the Baker-Carter Commission on Federal Election Reform, which called for the implementation of a national voter ID requirement. Such a move would make it more difficult for Americans to exercise their right to vote, as voter ID requirements disproportionately place an additional burden on poor people, seniors, minorities, rural voters, and disabled Americans. Even Supreme Court Chief Justice Nominee John Roberts recently stated that "without access to the ballot box, people are not in the position to protect any other rights that are important to them" and that the right to vote ensures all other rights and is the "most precious right that we have as Americans."

"The right to vote is a fundamental freedom and a fundamental underpinning of our democracy," said DNC Chairman Dean. "The right to vote also ensures every American the opportunity to participate in our democracy. And given that only 60 percent of eligible voters participated in the last election, we should do everything we can to make it easier for people to exercise their right to vote, not harder. As Democrats have previously stated, we should also take steps to restore Americans' confidence that they will not only have the opportunity to vote but the right to have that vote counted.

"The DNC is concerned and disappointed that the Baker-Carter Commission on Federal Election Reform, over the strong dissent of some of its most distinguished members, has seen fit to support a 'national ID card' that threatens to deny the right to vote to millions of citizens who are lawfully registered and eligible to do so. The commission's recommendations create additional bureaucratic barriers to the ballot box, despite the fact - as the Commission itself concedes - that there is simply no evidence of the kind of widespread impersonation fraud that could remotely justify imposing such a new obstacle. In Ohio, the League of Women Voters found only four instances of impersonation out of 9 million votes, and the Secretary of State of Georgia reported that there was not a single instance of voter fraud during her tenure.

"On a positive note, the commission attempts to address these challenges by recommending national ID's with no associated costs. The commission also highlighted the need for a paper trail, which we also agree with. Unfortunately, while there are a number of positive recommendations in the Baker-Carter Commission's report, their support for a national voter ID creates barriers, not bridges, to voting.

"I agree with the late Justice Thurgood Marshall: the right to vote is a cherished and fundamental right that should be respected and protected by our Democracy. In the face of voting irregularities in states like Ohio and Florida, and a new recognition by the government that those living in poverty have been consistently left behind, now is not the time to restrict the right of all Americans to fully participate in our democracy."