Journalism in the Public Interest


Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Voter ID Laws

More than 30 states have enacted some version of voter ID law in recent years. How much do these laws change voting rules and what impact could they have on the general election?

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Bob Burns

July 23, 2012, 3:26 p.m.

It’s astonishing that the GOP has so blatantly enacted voter suppression laws (which is all these things are). It harkens back to the bad old days, of course, but it is also a reminder that racism isn’t dead im this country. It has been latent - until we finally elected a non-white President. Now, once more, it’s reared its ugly head.

Joe Lykins

July 23, 2012, 3:49 p.m.

I don’t get it. What the hell’s the big deal? I’ll bet if we were required to have a photo ID to buy gasoline, or something else trivial, we’d damn sure go get one. There are some precincts where even dead people are allowed to vote, so it seems a photo ID is a fair assurance that a ballot is valid.. (Funny that the precincts are predominantly Democrat; hmm….). Requiring a photo ID is not racist, any more than requiring a driver’s license. I wish people would quit raising that straw man.

arnold Josnick

July 23, 2012, 4:14 p.m.

The photo ID is so repulsive that the NAACP required it to gain access to their meetings.  You need it to buy cigarettes,alcohol, collect gambling winnings, cash a check, get a EBT card, and the list goes on and on. 

I fail to see how obtaining a FREE photo ID is such a great hardship.


July 23, 2012, 4:36 p.m.

Gee Joe (the Plumber?). Provide us with proof that dead people were allowed to vote. NOT, mind you, that dead people were on the rolls because the rolls are not updated very often. But that one zombie actually VOTED.

And, as for you, Arnold, I know several people for whom $25.00 is a large expense not to mention the difficulty they have getting around without a car. There are no buses around here, Arnie.

But, meanwhile, Turzai spoke the truth. If I had my choice between some zombie voting Republican and a Republican being disenfranchised, I’d allow the zombie to vote. But, then, I’m an American liberal.


July 23, 2012, 4:40 p.m.

Remember we are dealing with legal-istas who say the documented cases, i.e. those recognized and charged or maybe even convicted are few—which is likely true.  As if the authorities prosecute all the traffic speeders out there.  Remember a few years ago, an organization sent registered letters to a large quantity of Ohio voters based on the registrations?  then remember how a huge number of letters came back with ‘no such address’, ‘no one by that name here’, vacant lots etc etc etc?  The organization was vilified for its action but no one vilified the all those incorrectly or fraudulently registered?  They aren’t counted by the legal-istas.  I suggest all the ‘rights’ orgs stop giving news conferences and start helping those without IDs to get them!  Then everyone can stand tall on election day knowing their vote counts.


July 23, 2012, 5:01 p.m.

It is my understanding that everyone in high school has an ID card with a photo. So even if someone does not drive they would have that as an ID, if in the service you get a photo id, driver licenses have a photo id and you can get a photo id card from the dmv if you do not drive. now most credit cards have a photo id, so it seems hard for me to see why everyone does not have a photo ID that is 18 and over. In Calif. after my mother died, I checked and it was 5 yrs before they removed her name and I wrote letters and called every year. They just have us sign our name and print our address and that is written where we are signing and printing so I guess we won’t have to remember it. Without having photo ID’s anyone can vote and say they are anyone and who would know unless someone decided to vote who had not voted in years and their name was already signed. . WE need photo ID’s

Peter Ellis

July 23, 2012, 5:25 p.m.

Material does not cover potential abuses in several states now using mail ballots sent to registered voters.

So what is potential for mail ballot fraud. Simply one ballot being used improperly?


July 23, 2012, 5:28 p.m.

I live outside philadephia and i watched the news on election day..they were interviewing people who said they were homeless and had voted 2,3 and 4 times in 4-5 different districts… there were also reported cases of nursing staff taking mentally challenged people to the polls in vans and voting for them.. if you dont know the difference between soda and a kitchen cabinet you damn sure cant choose who you want to be president..  Also all these groups who oppose these laws require ID to get into their buildings and functions!!!!! Hypocrites


July 23, 2012, 5:44 p.m.

The question is simple.  Is it better to allow a few dozen illegal votes (and not show ID), or force voters to show ID and disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters? 

Which is the more illegitimate election?


July 23, 2012, 6:10 p.m.

cjr gets it.

What a depressing worldview voter ID proponents must have. Imagine going through life thinking the worst of people, worrying so much over 86 cases of voter fraud that potentially disenfranchising millions of perfectly legal citizens sounds like a better plan.


July 23, 2012, 6:24 p.m.

Plz, forgive my french, but this writer is fulla crap. Must have been bored with nothing else to write about. Or they really ARE a Republican fishing for more knowledge to pervert…legally.
I could write a whole article about this issue and the writers of it far as that goes, but I’ll only give two points here.
Perhaps the republicans ain’t as nasty and have dictator laws here, but even our POOREST people who desperately need food to eat HAVE to have an ID. Human services used to get that sort of ID for them, but have no idea if they even do that anymore. You don’t have an ID, you STARVE.
Number two: There is the BIGGEST part of the year to go for an ID and there is a LOT of things you can’t do or have around here without an ID. That includes going to a nightclub, and it don’t make a dam if you look 108 friggin years OLD-ID at the DOOR! Or you don’t get in.
That includes jobs, bank accounts, library cards, driver’s licenses and buying a bottle of liquor.
Even poor ragged drifters come thru here and if they are living by the river and need food and no money and go to the local Salvation Army to pick up a couple of bags of food-ID! Gotta have or you won’t get but one time.
Now, WHO do you think you’re foolin’ today?


July 23, 2012, 6:25 p.m.

Give me a break, disenfranchising hundreds of thousands? I don’t believe it.Third world countries require more voter documentation than we do, and most have a much higher percentage of votes cast.

Voting is a civic duty, but it’s all too easily avoided when it conflicts with trivial tasks. Additionally, voters should be expected to educate themselves about the candidates and issues, a chore few are willing to undertake. Voting is a privilege, but it comes with responsibilities. One of those should be to prove our eligibility to exercise it.


July 23, 2012, 7:09 p.m.

New generation’s Electronic voting system done through small private devices such as cell phones, facebook type accounts will surely help eliminate these problems in the times ahead!3
the cost will be losing so called “Privacy” which is actually only a foolish notion of ordinary citizens.
What is truly beneficial is wise voters cast votes for electing wise leaders. Votes of Belief-blind ones are worthless.

Richard Winger

July 23, 2012, 7:15 p.m.

Election officials already have the signature of every registered voter on file.  Signatures on the sign-in sheet at the polls can be compared with the signature on file in the voter registration records.  So voting is different from other commercial transactions.

And it is not true that a photo ID is an absolute requirement to fly on a commercial flight.  Anyone who shows up with a photo ID, but who explains why, can then have TSA personnel access his or her credit record and then TSA asks questions that only that individual would know the answer to.

Anyone can lose his or her wallet, just before voting.  I doubt any U.S. adult over the age of 25 can say he or she has never lost a wallet.


July 23, 2012, 7:33 p.m.

Commenters who sneer at those who question the legitimacy of voter ID laws simply overlook the truth: there are elderly people who can’t get to the places that issue IDs; there are people who can’t access their birth certificates because the documents no longer exist; there are people who don’t have drivers licenses because they can’t afford a car.

Please read this piece, which provides two specific cases where, though no fault of their own, eligible voters cannot get valid voter IDs:

This piece describes how the Wisconsin voter ID requirements will compel an 84-year-old woman who has been voting for 63 years to pay a fee for a birth certificate and an additional fee to correct a misspelling on her birth record. Although the story may exaggerate when it says the woman could end up paying $200, the point is this: why should she have to pay anything at all?

Simply saying, as so many of you have, that ID cards are a fact of life does not make it so. It may be true for you and everyone you know, but studies and specific cases show that some people who have every right to vote will be disenfranchised by these voter ID laws, and for some people, they impose an unfair financial burden.


July 23, 2012, 8:20 p.m.

“In Pennsylvania, nearly 760,000 registered voters, or 9.2 percent of the state’s 8.2 million voter base, don’t own state-issued ID cards, according to an analysis of state records by the Philadelphia Inquirer. State officials, on the other hand, place this number at between 80,000 and 90,000.”

Actually, the 760,000 figure is the number from the PA Department of State’s own analysis (  The Governor and Secretary of State originally guessed that the number would be in the 80,000 to 90,000 range, but when they actually did the study, they discovered the number was much higher.  An expert analysis performed for the voters challenging the law indicates that the number is even higher—more than 1 million voters (

Notably, in the lawsuit challenging the PA photo ID law, the Commonwealth has admitted in writing that there is no evidence of in-person voter impersonation fraud, which is the only kind of fraud that a law requiring voters to show ID at the polls possibly could prevent ( 

If you are interested, you can read reports and commentary on the PA lawsuit here:


July 23, 2012, 9:04 p.m.

I think the fact that under the Texas law, you can show a gun license and cast a vote but be turned away with a student ID, is all the proof necessary to show that these are politically-motivated measures to suppress one kind of citizen and encourage other kinds.

Caraline Levy

July 24, 2012, 3:08 a.m.

Follow the money from ALEC, a corporate front group that claims to be bipartisan.  They give money and write laws that benefit corporations and in return, the legislators push the laws through.
We need.someone like the late Granny D to push for campaign finance reform. It’s immoral for any public servant to take money from anyone let alone.promise favorable legislation with the money. There is a word for that. Bribery.


July 24, 2012, 5:34 a.m.

Astounding, some one is full of it and me thinks the author; is….

Liberals are crazy about Europe and what they think is Utopia.
I have news for all. The European Union Requires that all citizens will carry ID on them at all times.
Now why is this so hard for US citizens to do?
Is it any harder for a Democrat to get and ID than a Republican?
With 20 some millionIlegals it may be very necessary soon to prove who you are…


July 24, 2012, 5:38 a.m.

Senior citizens who receive Social Security Checks must do so by direct deposit to a financial instution, How did they get an account or even the check. It is time just get one and quit the crying, dead men do not count any more nor will illegals…......


July 24, 2012, 6:56 a.m.

My late mother never drove a car, hence, no license; never had a credit card or checking account; never traveled abroad, hence, no passport; but resided at the same address for 43 years and voted in every election until her death.  It’s doubtful she would have been able to do so in some states today.  When I took up residence in my home 22 years ago, I signed a form the signature on which is compared with one I must provide at each election to obtain a ballot.  Unfortunately, I have since been aflicted with essential tremor which renders my current signature very different from that provided two decades ago.  Would some require I bring a medical certificate to substantiate the condition?  My driver’s license issued four years ago pictures me clean shaven.  I have since grown a beard.  Must I shave or get a new license at a cost of $150 to vote?  Those so quick to embrace the obsticles being raised to the exercise of our most precious right as citizens should consider we are not all identical peas in the same pod.


July 24, 2012, 7:02 a.m.

I have talked to several people who are being cut out by the PA law.  One had only his birth record, which his parents never filed to turn it into a birth certificate, and being disabled, it’s non-trivial for him to navigate the process of filing it, waiting, and then coming back to try (again) to get an ID.  Another has a mother who was born in a sharecropper shack in the south, and her birth certificate was that the family carved her name into a tree outside the door.  Another young woman had to spend $95 for a birth certificate, because she was born in an army hospital in a base that is now closed, and some minor details were mis-spelled, meaning that a database search would not pull it up, so she had to pay for a hand search of all of the records from several closed bases. Many students in our state do not understand why some college ID’s will work (because they have expiration dates printed on them, or officially added) while others will not (no expiration dates, or unofficially added).  Ditto people with nursing home ID’s (who ever heard of a nursing home ID with an expiration date?  That’s macabre.) They will be surprised when they get to the polls.

Please note that in all cases, these are not the “freeloaders” that some folks like to complain about—these are people who worked hard, paid their own way, and never found a need to have state-government issued photo ID before. They have social security cards, they go to school, to work, pay taxes, and there is ZERO suspicion that they are anything other than US citizens (their family trees go back generations in the US). But getting an ID for voting is somewhere between an expensive burden and a near-impossibility. True, for 93-96% of society, showing an ID is no problem.  But elections are commonly decided by a few percentage points—and unlike everything else that we use ID’s for, voting is a right, not a privilege.


July 24, 2012, 7:06 a.m.

John… the European Union does not require every citizen to carry ID on them at all times. Laws concerning ID vary throughout the EU, just like it does in the US. Looking at the comments, its amazing how ignorant we are of the conditions that the poor in our country live in. So many of you live right next to them and have no idea. The US has one of the lowest voter participation rates in the democratic world. We love to fly the flag and cheer our veterans, but many of us can’t be bothered to do the one thing that our veterans were fighting for. The US also has practically no voter fraud whatsoever. It is a non-issue dressed up to hide the true motives of the people pushing it.


July 24, 2012, 7:54 a.m.

To the commenter who said it would take that elderly woman 200.00 for an ID, then your state has crooks in offices such as ID offices and is committing fraud and theft. You need to turn them in to Dept. of Justice and your local District Attorney.
That said, you better wake up and open your eyes to the things citizens HAVE to have an ID for to have. Just about everything here in Okla.
Is the point of this is to leave the door unlocked to let thieves come in and take EVERYTHING?
Geez, even the bible warned about that! More logic than then greed the size of the titanic, and it is going DOWN.
WHY aren’t such people being helped? Or do you really not care and cover it up with babble?

Jimmy Wingnut

July 24, 2012, 7:56 a.m.

Someone earlier posted that those who can’t differentiate between a kitchen cabinet and a can of soda should not be allowed to vote. I couldn’t agree more. If that were the rule, Obama would win by a Saddam Heussein like margin.


July 24, 2012, 8:17 a.m.

(Not the other one…the usual one that rambles for pages…)

First, I don’t see a problem with an ID requirement, as long as there’s no burden in getting the ID.  And by “no burden,” I mean we spring the twenty bucks (or whatever) for the homeless guy who wants to vote ON THE SPOT at the voting station.

Keep in mind that this is 2012, after all.  I can have an accurate model of the Statue of Liberty custom-printed for me in under an hour.  An ID doesn’t need to be expensive, or even something the voter takes home.

Along similar lines, a point system (like everybody else in the world uses) would also work fine.  An EBT card and a bank statement should be fine.  Add in attestations (under threat of perjury), as in, “these people (who have valid ID) say this is where I live,” and I think it can work without much burden to anybody.

However, that’s only a fraction of the problem.  Really, how many non-residents can you really sneak into a polling place and how many elections can that swing?

The remainder of the problem is that the government needs to make the counting process transparent, from bottom to top.

Here’s the thing, a million years ago, before voting was industrialized (and it’s still like this in a few small towns, here and there), each “counting” point posted its interim results where anybody could see them.

If your district has a hundred people in it, and three hundred voted, or if everybody you know votes solidly for one party and the other candidate wins, it’s clear that something’s wrong.  Likewise, the town counts need to match the districts, the county the towns, the state the counties, and the country the states.

If the government can’t provide this, then it doesn’t matter how many illegal voters there are, because it’s trivial to steal the election AFTER the vote.  And since it’s well-known that the Diebold (or whatever their name is, this week) machines are easy to hack, that possibility is kind of a big deal.

Think about your web browser when you make a purchase.  Yes, Amazon or whoever needs to make absolutely sure that you’re you, but you also need to make absolutely sure that they are who they say they are.  Authentication needs to go both ways, or it’s useless.

1.  Good ID laws are good.
2.  Burdensome ID laws are bad.
3.  No voting law is relevant unless counting the votes is transparent.

Steve Gilbert

July 24, 2012, 11:52 a.m.

With today’s technology, there are better means than photos id’s.  There should be a system based upon biometrics; either finger print matching or some other means.

Only US citizens who are alive and breathing should be allowed to vote.

Unfortunately, disenfranchisement has and will always exists, for example, non-ambulatory people and in particular, the very elderly.  Nevertheless, technology should be installed to put an equitable end to this argument once and for all.


July 24, 2012, 11:56 a.m.

With today’s technology, there are better means than photos id’s.  There should be a system based upon biometrics; either finger print matching or some other means.

Only US citizens who are alive and breathing should be allowed to vote. The “fact” that only a “few” cases of fraudelent voting has occurred doesn’t hold water.  There have been many close elections decided by a handful of votes.  Fear of voter fraud undermines confdence in our system.

Unfortunately, disenfranchisement has and will always exists, for example, non-ambulatory people and in particular, the very elderly.  Nevertheless, technology should be installed to put an equitable end to this argument once and for all.  (sames argument applies to voting machines)

Al Brockman

July 24, 2012, 2:38 p.m.

If you’re going to report on Voter ID laws, GET THE FACTS RIGHT. You state that “But prior to the 2006 election, no state ever required a voter to produce a government-issued photo ID as a condition to voting”
You are wrong. I lived in Connecticut for a number of years until 2001. For quite a while,  had to produce a driver’s license in order to vote. There may have been other states.
I all the years that CT had a Voter ID law, I never saw a single instance of anyone showing any “voter suppression”

Ken H

July 24, 2012, 2:53 p.m.

The New York Times study found that 86 out of 120 cases they investigated resulted in convictions. That’s 71.6% of the cases showing VOTER FRAUD.

Pull your head out of the sand, people! Voter fraud is happening, and it is REAL.

Suevon Lee

July 24, 2012, 3:13 p.m.

Mr. Brockman,

Under existing Connecticut law, there is no requirement for registered voters to show ID, except first-time voters who didn’t provide valid ID upon registering. Even then, a photo ID is not specifically required. Please see this link for more information:

Suevon Lee

Jerry Buerge

July 24, 2012, 4:06 p.m.

The only way to prevent dead folks, illegal’s, non-existent or disguised people from voting is to require ALL voters to leave a finger print behind that will allow the authorities to put them in jail should they vote without the authority to do so. That is, as long as there is no tampering with the official records of the jurisdictions involved.

A photo ID, legal or otherwise can be faked, legitimized and authentic in every respect including a voter being fully vetted and listed on the voter roster in MORE than one jurisdiction, all without detection as long as that vote is cast year after year in most systems.

Fingerprints can be easily compared with a standardized technique that is cost effective and tolerable.

Physical disguise can easily produce multiple photo IDs that will pass any test you can create if enough yet minimal effort is invested to establish official documentation to permit their use at multiple locations.

Therefor, the current demand for photo IDs is nothing more than an open invitation to wholesale fraud and will simply delay the adapt ion of realistic measures to solve a problem that does not realistically exist in most jurisdictions.


July 24, 2012, 6:57 p.m.

If all States enacted similar voting requirements and all demanded a photo ID for proper and necessary recognition. Then only legally registered and qualified voters would be allowed to vote. This would eliminate most voting fraud activities. Legitimate voters would not be disenfranchised by ‘Chicago’ Style voting fraud.


July 25, 2012, 12:10 p.m.

Here’s the, you should pardon the expression, elephant in the room. 

There have been only a handful of cases of voter fraud in the last several years.  There is absolutely no evidence that non-citizens or people whose voting rights have been suspended aren’t sufficiently deterred by the laws in every state making casting a vote you are not legally entitled to vote a felony punishable by prison time. 

There is, in short, absolutely no evidence that we have a problem that need’s solving.  And yet here we have the Republican Party, the party that purports to just hate, hate, hate bureaucracy and “intrusive big government” and “wasteful spending” demanding that we spend tens of millions expanding the bureaucratic burden on ordinary citizens, taking down names and addresses all to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. 

Anyone who looks that that anomaly is compelled to conclude that there is another agenda.  And to determine what that agenda might be, one need only look at which part of the electorate is most likely to find these laws sufficiently burdensome to just take a pass on exercising their fundamental right to vote.   

The entire Republican argument is transparently pretextual.  And they get away with it because or media culture insists on treating Republican arguments that are self-evidently made in bad faith as being serious and avoiding asking question that might tend to expose that fact.


July 25, 2012, 1:49 p.m.

To Steve. You really need to get your head out of the sand. I know you would never read Fox News but you might just want to occasionally check. There is an article today titled “Drug money funds voter fraud in Kentucky”. You might also want to check pending voter fraud cases across the country. I lived in a state that required photo ID for many years. I cannot remember a single instance of complaints about “voter suppression”. How do you find voter fraud if no identification is required?

BTW, I went to pick up a small package at Walmart today. Guess what - I had to show a photo ID. There is almost nothing you can do without a photo ID.
You progressives consider yourselves the Anointed. Anyone who disagrees just can’t understand your superior intelligence and logic.
Your hero has already destroyed the economy of this country in just 4 short years

Paul Moen

July 25, 2012, 1:59 p.m.

Why don’t those of you who, “know” of cases of voter fraud notify the officials so that the frauders can be prosecuted.  I have a birth certificate.  What does that prove?  I could give it to a friend of about my age and it wouldn’t prove that the certificate applied to him.  It has a footprint of a few-hours-old baby but . . . . .  With regard to my need to prove my existence in other matters, the constitution does not address any of that but it does say that if I am 18, I can vote.  It puts no other requirements on me.  I wish the current effort would be directed toward making it easier for more people to vote.  The current efforts would seem to make it more difficult for some to vote and that, by itself, should cause this effort to fail.


July 25, 2012, 3:28 p.m.

This is voter suppression!  We seam to have a football mentality in our politics, what ever it takes to win! Doesn’t matter whose rights we have to take away, as long as our side wins. But here is the problem, when that happen we ALL LOOSE! It is only a matter of time before we are all in that loosing side! To protect the disadvantaged right to vote, is to protect YOUR right to vote! It is JUST THAT SIMPLE!

K. Hamele

July 25, 2012, 4:14 p.m.

“Football mentality” indeed, like PSU athletics, victimizing people who can’t fight back. All in the name of privatizing every government everywhere. The fraud in US elections is in the counting, not the balloting. All this noise about people voting illegally is to cover camouflage the real crime: We are so screwed.

Andy from Beaverton

July 26, 2012, 8:55 a.m.

There are 190 recognized countries, ONLY 4 DO NOT REQUIRE IDENTIFICATION.  Doesn’t anybody read anymore or do they just ignore facts?

The following is from
Harvard Law & Policy Review 3,2 (Summer 2009)
Is Everyone Else Doing It? Indiana’s Voter Identification Law in International Perspective
Frederic Charles Schaffer* Tova Andrea Wang**

Countries that do not require identification include Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom (with the exception of Northern Ireland). In Norway and the Netherlands, voters are required to present identification only if it is requested by a poll worker. In Switzerland, every registered voter is sent a registration card prior to an election, and if the voter brings her registration card to the polling place, no additional identification is needed.


July 27, 2012, 8:45 a.m.

It seems odd that conservatives who have traditionally championed individual rights and have resisted government intrusion into people’s lives now want laws requiring official documentation of its citizens if they are to be allowed to play any role in deciding how we want to govern ourselves.

If someone chooses to live as self-sufficiently as they can, they may be giving up their right to weigh in on whether such independence will be tolerated in this country.

Politics, I guess, always demands compromise.


July 27, 2012, 8:48 a.m.

It seems odd that conservatives who have traditionally championed individual rights and have resisted government intrusion into people’s lives now want laws requiring official documentation of its citizens if they are to be allowed to play any role in deciding how we want to govern ourselves.

If someone chooses to live as self-sufficiently as they can, they may be giving up their right to weigh in on whether such independence will be tolerated in this country. Perhaps the threat of terrorism has made required intrusion into our lives for the purposes of sorting us out from the bad guys inevitable and acceptable to people who once resisted it as a threat to individual freedom.

Politics, I guess, always demands compromise.


July 27, 2012, 2:10 p.m.

The effort (and money) expended in fighting photo ids for voting could have been directed at making sure all those who wanted a photo id to vote had one.  It makes me suspicious as to their true motives.

Another solution would be to have photo id creation available when these individuals show up to vote.  They show a utility bill, etc., get their picture taken, slap it on an “official” plastic card and they can vote.

Also,these individuals who have no way of getting to a place that can issue a photo id somehow have means to show up to vote.


July 29, 2012, 3:35 p.m.

Suevon….I live in CT also, you don’t really need a Drivers License for an ID you can use a Social Security card, a bill with name and address etc…but my mother went to vote the year this past and was told she had to show a picture ID she did not have one never drove we tried to explain to them ask to show ss card or Medicare card they gave her a hard time shows how much the people checking you in know. They were wrong.. Funny I was just reading the requirements of the Connecticut ID Law….If you need ID have your bills, SS card, Medicare Card EBT card Rent receipt etc Why make people go to extremes when some of or most of these show who you are because they check up on you to get them.


July 29, 2012, 4:03 p.m.

The law in CT must have changed in the past few years. When I lived there, the requirement was for a photo ID to vote. I lived there for 20 years and never heard of a concern raised about “discriminating”. The State should make it very easy and inexpensive (or no cost) to obtain a photo ID. Then there should be minimal problems.
There is a problem when a young white male (looking nothing like the AG) can go to Eric Holder’s place of voting and be given his ballot by simply asking for it.


July 30, 2012, 4:28 a.m.

The former president of the Florida Republican party has publicly admitted the agenda of the party is to disenfranchise voters they believe to be Democratic voters.


July 30, 2012, 9:10 a.m.

In the US, voting is a constitutional right. And voting is a *local* matter. There is no funding set aside from state or federal govt to pay for the cost of having an election.

Because voting is a local matter, it is paid out of local funds (which are collected via taxes). That means costs shifted from the state to the election system are an unfunded mandate on taxpayers at the local level.

Without Voter ID, people bring their existing appropriate ID (if any is needed) to vote. They are allowed to vote and their vote is counted. This is how the system has worked—successfully—for over two centuries.

With mandatory Voter ID, individuals are required to have a specific type of ID in order to vote. This interferes with the individual’s right to vote, but the states claim they will issue a “free” Voter ID card for those who need one. In an ideal world, people would simply have their “Voter ID” card and use it for their lifetime (updated as needed). Such a card would be a de facto National ID card. However, there exists no such National ID card in the US (yet).

Due to the lack of such an ID card, the unwillingness to create yet more bureaucracy and paperwork, and primarily to save money, states chose instead to *permit* the substitution of an *existing* ID card in lieu of a “real” Voter ID card. One example would be a state-issued driver’s license.

But, all that does is mean the cost of issuing Voter ID cards is reduced—not eliminated. People are still required to have one of a limited type of ID—one they might not have (non-drivers). Thus, they have to go and get the *specified* ID they did not need previously (but do need in the future—purely to vote, no other reason).

Because this Voter ID is a cost borne by the local govt and/or the state system, it is an *extra* cost added to taxes.

Voter ID is a tax increase.

And everyone thought conservatives were *against* tax increases….


July 30, 2012, 9:28 a.m.

Jerry - What a bizarre set of comments.  First, voting is NOT aconstitutional right. It does not appear in the constitution. Second, your comment that State and Federal governments don’t set aside money for elections - what is your point? Local voters elect local, state and federal candidates. Municipalities budget for it - what’s your point? Third the problem is the few states that require NO ID. How do dead people/illegal immigrants vote?
If you want to talk about unfunded federal mandates - Every time the President attends a fund raiser, States and local communities are on the hook for thousands of dollars for security. Get the campaign to pay for that and there will be more than enough money to pay for ANY form of Photo ID program.
BTW, is the President’s fund raising visit a hidden tax???

Denise Chartier Dorcey

July 30, 2012, 9:45 a.m.

To those who think voter ID laws are a good idea, think about this:

Last week, I took my 18-year-old son to advance vote at our county clerk’s office. It was his first time voting. As he does not have a driver’s license (prefers to walk), ...I had verified ahead of time… that any government-issued ID would work including military dependent IDs. Being the son of a Viet Nam vet, his father and my husband served for 24 years in the military, I thought my son’s newly issued military dependent ID would allow him to vote with no problem.

Not so!

The lady at the clerk’s office made the comment that the picture didn’t look like him and hesitated to continue the voter process. I asked her if there was a problem, since he provided her with a government-issued ID. She made the comment again that it didn’t look like him. I referred her to the picture, stating that though it is a high black-and-white contrast picture, it was in fact my son. I also offered to show her my own dependent ID picture and my driver’s license to compare the two. She appeared to reluctantly accept his ID as in fact his and proceed.

The question I have is, what would have happened had I not been there?

My son, being a first time voter and rather shy, may have not said anything and accepted her not believing it was a picture of him. He may have walked away without voting and very well may have not attempted to vote again because he thought he was not acceptable.

Not the this should make ANY DIFFERENCE AT ALL, but we are a family of white, Anglo-Saxons with Christian beliefs. I worry what will happen—in my county, my state my country—to other people whose “picture doesn’t look like them” according to one person?????


July 30, 2012, 10:38 a.m.

Barbara, I think the flaw in your logic is the assertion that there are politicians that stand for anything other than their own interests.  Despite rhetoric to the contrary, nobody gets themselves elected to government with the intent of getting themselves less authority.  It’d be like going to your boss and asking for a lower salary.

That’s the problem with a national-level voter ID law:  Once the ID is required, what else will it be required for and how will it be tracked?  Remember, it’s not too long ago when everybody you came in contact with asked for your Social Security Number to do business.

More generally, it’s worth pointing out that any law is a balance between false positives and false negatives.  In this case, that’s letting people vote illegally versus stopping legal voters.  A lack of a law allows all false positives.  Jim Crow would have many false negatives.  The question shouldn’t be “should we have to show ID,” but “what kind of law minimizes the chance of both errors?”

To Denise’s point, her situation is bad, but it’s not the fault of the concept.  It’s that the law puts too much power in the hands of someone who doesn’t care and ignores false negatives.  But you could have “weird” votes cast provisionally with a follow-up, for example, that would solve most problems.

But, as I said above, without transparency in vote-counting, none of these laws can make a difference.  Unless you can be sure your vote counted, your vote can be overturned by whoever does the counting or whoever writes/runs the program that does the counting.


July 30, 2012, 12:35 p.m.

MsMarie, it’s not that people do not have different types of photo id’s.  The issue is that in some states, like Texas, the proposed changes make so that even school/college photo id’s are invalid.  I agree with the use of a photo id of some sort, but not to the extent that many of these laws are taking it.

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