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Is Harper’s Voter ID law inspired by the Tea Party?

If passed, the Harper government’s so-called Fair Elections Act would no longer allow the use of voter cards sent out by Elections Canada as valid ID at polling stations.

Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand says, “Electors still have a challenge producing proper identification at the polls. …Groups that come to mind are aboriginals, young people, even seniors, who are increasing in terms of population and have increasing difficulty producing proper ID documents.”

And the Ottawa Citizen has commented, “This (new provision) may disproportionately affect non-Tory voters and seems like a solution in search of a problem.”

Is it possible that the Harper government has taken inspiration for this aspect of the Fair Elections Act from the Koch brothers-funded Tea Party ‘True the Vote’ initiative in the US?

The New York Times reports, “True the Vote grew out of a Tea Party group in Texas, the King Street Patriots, with the assistance of Americans for Prosperity, a group founded by the Koch brothers that works to elect conservative Republicans. …Voter identity fraud is all but nonexistent, but the assertion that it might exist is used as an excuse to reduce the political rights of minorities, the poor, students, older Americans and other groups that tend to vote Democratic.”

MSNBC adds, “Studies show blacks and Hispanics are significantly more likely than whites to lack ID.” 

A Democratic Party spokesperson in Nevada has called the proposed Voter ID law “discriminatory voter suppression” and that “the point of this initiative–and something Republicans makes no secret of believing helps them on Election Day–is to keep people from voting.”

Tea Party Republicans are pushing for Voter ID laws in Nevada, Texas, Missouri, California and numerous other states. Are we seeing the beginnings of similar ‘discriminatory voter suppression’ in Canada?

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