White House reserves judgment on photo Social Security cards

The White House said Friday it had not had a chance to review a proposal, endorsed by former Presidents Clinton and Carter, for Social Security cards to incorporate photo identification.

The idea was proposed as a way to help mitigate the Supreme Court's weakening of the Voting Right Act.

"We haven't had an opportunity to review all of the implications of that idea that Bill Clinton and others have put forward, but generally speaking on the question of voting rights, President Obama believes we should be making it easier and not harder for every eligible citizen to vote," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday. "That's the position he's discussed on many occasions. Not everyone in public office seems to have the same perspective."

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The idea of issuing Social Security cards with photo IDs was offered by civil rights pioneer Andrew Young at a summit marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act on Friday in Texas.

Young, a leader of the Why Tuesday? voting issues group, said the proposal could be accomplished via executive order, and that it would help combat a Supreme Court ruling last year that gutted a top provision of the Voting Rights Act.

The ruling struck down a provision of the law which required certain jurisdictions with a history of voting suppression to clear any changes in their voting laws with the Justice Department. The court said Congress could update the pre-clearance formula, but lawmakers have been unable to agree on new standards.

Some Southern states have subsequently moved aggressively in the interim to impose new, tougher voter ID requirements. Supporters of the legislation, including many Republicans, argue the new standards help prevent voter fraud.

But Democrats and civil rights groups have blasted the legislation as an attempt to suppress the vote among poor and minority voters, who are less likely to have government-issued photo identification.

Young said "free and easily accessible" federal voter ID would help ensure all Americans could vote.

"In today's world, if you don't have a photo ID you can't board an airplane or get into most buildings," he continued. "It is our obligation to make sure that every citizen has the ability to obtain a government-issued photo ID and the Social Security Administration is ideal for making that happen effectively and efficiently."

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