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Tea party favorite Sharron Angle pushes voter ID

The Tea Party favorite wants a constitutional amendment that would impose a photo ID requirement.
Sharron Angle, at a rally in Las Vegas on April 15, 2011.
Sharron Angle, at a rally in Las Vegas on April 15, 2011.

A prominent Tea Party Republican is spearheading a push for voter ID in Nevada.

Sharron Angle, who lost a 2010 Senate challenge to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, wants to put on the November ballot a constitutional amendment imposing a voter ID requirement, according to documents she filed that were posted online by the Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston. 

The initiative is just the latest attempt by Republicans to change state constitutions in order to advance voter ID. Similar efforts are already underway in Missouri and California. The strategy highlights the growing importance of voter ID to a party facing challenging demographic headwinds.

The state's Democratic Party called Angle's initiative "discriminatory voter suppression," adding: "The point of this initiative--and something Republicans makes no secret of believing helps them on Election Day--is to keep people from voting."

"The Nevada Republican Party believes in protecting both the fundamental right of and participation in voting for all citizens," the Nevada GOP said in a statement. "Better checks and balances for integrity are encouraged as long as we continue to protect fair and open access for voting."

Nevada, previously a reliably Repulican state, has in recent cycles swung to the Democrats, amid a massive influx of Hispanics, especially in the Las Vegas area. Studies show blacks and Hispanics are significantly more likely than whites to lack ID.

In September, the Republican leader in the Nevada state assembly predicted that the party would do well in 2014 because "a lot of minorities, a lot of younger people will not turn out in an non-presidential year."

If approved by voters, Angle's amendment would require that Nevadans voting in person show a government-issued photo ID. It would make free voter IDs available to those without them, but says nothing about the often significant cost of the documents, like birth certificates, that can be required to obtain ID.

To get the proposed amendment on the ballot, Angle would need 100,000 signatures from registered Nevada voters by mid-June. Earlier this month, she announced a separate effort to get an amendment repealing the state's heathcare exchange on the ballot.

Angle has long been sounding the alarm about alleged fraud. Though she lost to Reid by 41,000 votes, she suggested afterward that he and his allies had stolen the contest. Among other things, she claimed the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which backed Reid, had manipulated voting machines to give him imaginary votes. She later said she planned to make a documentary on voter fraud.

Angle gained national attention during that 2010 race when she suggested that conservatives might use "Second Amendment remedies" to advance their cause. She also said she thinks Social Security should be "transitioned out," and supports privatizing Medicare. Angle was one of several-far-right, Tea Party-backed candidates who have been blamed by more establishment Republicans for losing winnable Senate seats in recent cycles.