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The Challenge of Obtaining Voter ID

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Virginia recently strengthened its voter ID requirements, but did not require government-issued photo IDs, as discussed in this post.

The Brennan Center  just issued a report on other states, however, that have this requirement:  “Ten states now have unprecedented restrictive voter ID laws.  Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin all require citizens to produce specific types of government-issued photo identification before they can cast a vote that will count.  Legal precedent requires these states to provide free photo ID to eligible voters who do not have one.  Unfortunately, these free IDs are not equally accessible to all voters.”

“This report is the first comprehensive assessment of the difficulties that eligible voters face in obtaining free photo ID.  The 11 percent of eligible voters who lack the required photo ID must travel to a designated government office to obtain one.  Yet many citizens will have trouble making this trip.”  As the report details, many of the state ID-issuing offices are long distances from voters, lack public transportation, and have limited business hours.  Moreover, the documentation required to obtain a photo ID, including birth certificates and marriage licenses, can cost up to $25.  “By comparison, the notorious poll tax — outlawed during the civil rights era — cost $10.64 in current dollars.”

The Report concludes that:  “The result is plain: Voter ID laws will make it harder for hundreds of thousands of poor Americans to vote. They place a serious burden on a core constitutional right that should be universally available to every American citizen.  This November, restrictive voter ID states will provide 127 electoral votes — nearly half of the 270 needed to win the presidency. Therefore, the ability of eligible citizens without photo ID to obtain one could have a major influence on the outcome of the 2012 election.” 

  Brennan Center Voter ID July 2012 (1.3 MiB, 1,017 hits)