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Democrats in Congress are pleading with secretaries of state in all 50 states to oppose new state voter identification laws.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland says the letter to the state officials overseeing elections seeks to counter a "concerted" effort by Republicans to create voting obstacles for the elderly, minorities, low-income families and young people. States have passed laws toughening voter ID and voter registration requirements and reducing early voting days.

The Democrats' letter asks the secretaries of state to put aside partisan considerations and be vigilant against fraud while protecting access to the polls for all voters. The letter had 196 supporters in Congress Thursday.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, who signed the letter, says he is ashamed of the new voting barriers.

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