Increasing Numbers of Registered Voters Could Lose Right to Vote because of New ID Laws
Saturday, July 07, 2012
Generally speaking, election tacticians for both major parties pursue two strategies: make sure your supporters actually go to the polls on Election Day and try to persuade undecided voters to lean your way when they cast their ballots. But this year, Republicans have aggressively added a new tactic…limiting the number of Democrats who are able to vote. They have done this by passing state laws requiring voters to present ID, often with photos, on the assumption that voters who are too old or too poor to have photo IDs are more likely to vote Democratic.
For example, new laws requiring voters in Pennsylvania and Mississippi to show ID at polling places could result in thousands not voting in November.
State elections officials in Pennsylvania say more than three quarters of a million registered voters do not have the most common required documentation: a drivers license or ID card from the state Transportation Department.
In Philadelphia alone, more than 186,000 registered voters (18% of the city’s total registration) lack a license or state ID.
Many of these voters could be turned away in November unless they can provide the above forms of identification or a U.S. passport, student ID card, current military identification or ID cards issued to government employees.
The percentage of registered voters statewide at risk of not being allowed to vote is 9.2%, out of 8.2 million people. The administration of Governor Tom Corbett had previously claimed that only 1% of registered voters did not have the required photo ID.
The new law was adopted by Republican lawmakers and Corbett over the objections of Democrats who argued that the restriction would disenfranchise thousands of voters, especially the poor, elderly and young.
A similar conundrum faces voters in Mississippi, where the voter ID law has a Catch-22 aspect. Those who need to obtain an ID to qualify to vote must show a certified birth certificate, but for those who don’t have a birth certificate, they need to show an ID to get one.
Besides Pennsylvania and Mississippi, five other states have passed strict photo ID laws…Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Tennessee and Wisconsin, although Wisconsin’s law is being challenged in the courts. Texas and South Carolina have also passed such laws, but they are being challenged by the federal government. In Virginia, a law enacted in May requires those who show up without ID to cast a provisional ballot and then present ID within a few days for their ballots to count.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
Voter ID Law May Affect More Pennsylvanians Than Previously Estimated (by Bob Warner, Philadelphia Inquirer)
State Facing Voter ID Hurdles (by Vergie Redmond, Jackson Free Press)
Voter Identification Requirements (National Conference of State Legislatures)
After 50 and 70 Years of Voting, Two 93-Year-Olds Sue to Keep Right to Vote without Photo ID (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
New State Laws Could Reduce Voter Lists by 5 Million (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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