SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), Chair of the Illinois Senate Executive Committee, defeated a thinly veiled attempt by Republican legislators to disenfranchise voters by requiring them to present a state-issued photo ID on Election Day.

“Voters already have an ID card,” Harmon said. “It’s called a voter registration card. Election judges don’t need to see another form of ID. We should be making it easier for American citizens to vote, not harder.”

Three Republican senators filed legislation that would require voters to show a state-issued photo ID before they are allowed to cast their ballots, such as a driver’s license or another form of identification with a photo. Though they claim their plan is an anti-fraud measure, its primary effect would be to disenfranchise voters who – for whatever reason – don’t have a state-issued photo ID card. The majority of voters affected would be seniors and minorities because these groups are less likely to have state-issued IDs than others. According to an AARP report, 11 percent of American adults don’t have a photo ID, including one in five citizens over the age of 65.

During yesterday’s committee hearing, Sen. Harmon questioned the sponsor about his intentions. Unsatisfied by his answers, Harmon and the other Democrat on the committee refused to allow the proposal to move forward.

“Study after study has shown that our country does not have a problem with voter fraud – it has a problem with low voter turnout,” Harmon said. “This is clearly a solution without a problem.”

The measure was opposed by a non-partisan organization representing Illinois’ county clerks in addition to the AARP and various civil rights groups. The clerks are concerned that it would impose a new, unnecessary cost by requiring them to issue new voter IDs with photos.

“Most local governments are still struggling to balance their budgets,” Harmon added. “I find it ironic that some of the same individuals who scream the loudest about cutting the cost of government are supporting this costly government expansion.”