While President Obama says the right to vote, "is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law,"it doesn't mean he's on board with a proposal coming from the left to add photos to Social Security cards for use as a form of voter ID.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and one-time Democratic Congressman Andrew Young has been promoting the concept, calling it, "an idea whose time may have come."
Supporters include former Democratic Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. At a gathering to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, Clinton said, "It would be a good thing - just put them on everyone's Social Security card and give somebody something else to argue about."
But critics on both the left and right are pushing back, voicing concerns about potentially putting sensitive information at risk.Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., calls it a "really bad idea" and worries that it could lead to some form of national ID card. Paul has opposed that idea in the past, expressing concerns about the impact on privacy rights.
Wendy Weiser, Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, says it is important to have a conversation about how to improve the voting system, but she doesn't think this proposal is the solution.
"In many states the voter rolls are public, accessible by anyone," she says, adding that Congress has considered similar options in the past and found it to be "too big a risk."
Even those who do support the concept doubt it will get much traction, including Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice. Sekulow believes legislation based on Young's concept could pass the House and "probably" the Senate. However, he says, "I think it's going to go the fate of anything that shows identification verification and that is this White House seems to object to it."
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says the president has seen no formal proposal and takes no position, adding, "The president is interested in making it easier for eligible citizens to vote - not harder."