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Do You Have ID?

| August 14, 2012 | 4 Comments
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Flickr: aprilzosia

In a close presidential election, the new state voter ID laws could have a real effect.

In the presidential election this year, some states will require that voters show a photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport, to be eligible to vote. What is more, the address on the ID needs to match the voter registration rolls.

Why has this become such a big deal across party lines? The argument is that these laws are seen as a strategy to swing the vote in the November election by influencing turnout and voting eligibility. As such, the concern is that they are politically motivated.

Before the 2006 election, no state in the U.S. had identification laws of this kind. Indiana became the first state to enact a strict photo ID law in that year. Today some states require a government-issued photo as the proof of identity for voting, while other states accept a utility bill or bank statement. Eleven states require by law that voters show government-issued photo IDs, with 27 considering the introduction of these laws.

See voter ID requirements by state.

Republicans argue that these rules are needed to avoid voter fraud. Nine of the eleven states that have passed photo ID laws have Republican governors. This concern has been examined in a New York Times analysis from 2007, which identified a small number of cases.

Democrats claim these laws impact members of minority communities who may not have ID cards.  Patricia Smith in the The New York Times Upfront writes, “an estimated 21 million Americans – poor elderly, black or Hispanic – don’t have government ID cards. And many of them tend to vote Democratic.”

A study from New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center found that 11 percent of voting-age citizens, or roughly 21 million citizens, lack photo ID. And people in rural areas face the additional hurdle of accessing ID offices with more than 10 million eligible voters living more than 10 miles from the nearest office.

The battle goes on as five federal lawsuits have been filed this year to challenge the new laws as unconstitutional under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, on the grounds that the requirements would effectively disenfranchise voters.

Meanwhile, as November approaches, it may well be that a considerable number of Americans will be unable to cast their ballot as a result of this new restrictive legislation.

 

Resources

The Politics Behind New Voter ID Laws, NPR, August 2012

In Voter ID Debate, A Few Go Against Party Lines, KQED News, November 2011

New Target In Voter ID Battle: 1965 Voting Rights Act, KQED News, August 2012

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Category: ESL Project Highlights, News & Civics, Post-Secondary ESL

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About the Author ()

Maxine Einhorn is from London and has lived in the Bay Area for 12 years. She has worked in adult education in London,UK, for over twenty years as a tenured instructor and department manager. She has an MA in Film and TV from University of London and has taught, moderated and appraised academic work in film studies and media literacy at undergraduate and college level. She runs the ESL/ Post Secondary project at KQED which offers media-rich resources for and created by ESL educators.
  • electedface

    Voter ID is a violation of the 15th amendment. This is Voter Suppression at its finest.

    Watch the video and sign the petition to end Voter Suppression.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9TjVsQa57c

  • electedface

    Voter ID is a violation of the 15th amendment. This is Voter Suppression at its finest.

    Watch the video and sign the petition to end Voter Suppression.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9TjVsQa57c

  • http://compuable.com compuable

    Photo IDs for Non-Citizen and Senior Voters

    We should offer their parents more assistance in obtaining ID – if they do not currently have one – for themselves and their children. It is an undisputable it fact that many, many poor, minorities (and also ‘senior’ not-yet-citizens) do not have; and therefore cannot produce even a basic photo ID, which is a very bad thing indeed.

    I believe that – as a society – we are (and should) also be very concerned about as well as continue to possibly come to offer some more assistance to just about ‘anyone’ out there who does not actually have either the knowledge, financial means or the wherewithal to be able to apply for, keep and carry around a basic photo ID in the first place.

    One cannot even accomplish even very basic undertakings in our modern society; such as enter a bank and open an account or c… ash a check, apply for a lease, register your children for school, apply for needed senior-related financial and medical government benefits and literally dozens of other basic things in the modern world without being able to produce a current (as well a legitimate) photo ID.

    Not having an ID can severely jeopardize a person’s ability to do many of these things – not to mention not being able to cast a ballot in states that require a citizen produce one beforehand. Therefore I think it would also be more prudent to place more of the emphasis on offering more assistance to these fine folks; as well as addressing their voting requirements.

    Additionally, I entirely agree that these laws are being enacted by those who have absolutely no concern whatsoever; as to why the people have no ID at all, and that they are being entirely disingenuous, regarding the ‘proven to be fantasy’ claims of even the remote possibility these laughable proclamations regarding any rampant ‘multiple voter’ fraud. These people are nearly all likely; not showing their ID; because they most often do not HAVE one available – not because of ‘the refusal to offer’ one; as required at the voting booth.

  • http://compuable.com compuable

    Photo IDs for Non-Citizen and Senior Voters

    We should offer their parents more assistance in obtaining ID – if they do not currently have one – for themselves and their children. It is an undisputable it fact that many, many poor, minorities (and also ‘senior’ not-yet-citizens) do not have; and therefore cannot produce even a basic photo ID, which is a very bad thing indeed.

    I believe that – as a society – we are (and should) also be very concerned about as well as continue to possibly come to offer some more assistance to just about ‘anyone’ out there who does not actually have either the knowledge, financial means or the wherewithal to be able to apply for, keep and carry around a basic photo ID in the first place.

    One cannot even accomplish even very basic undertakings in our modern society; such as enter a bank and open an account or c… ash a check, apply for a lease, register your children for school, apply for needed senior-related financial and medical government benefits and literally dozens of other basic things in the modern world without being able to produce a current (as well a legitimate) photo ID.

    Not having an ID can severely jeopardize a person’s ability to do many of these things – not to mention not being able to cast a ballot in states that require a citizen produce one beforehand. Therefore I think it would also be more prudent to place more of the emphasis on offering more assistance to these fine folks; as well as addressing their voting requirements.

    Additionally, I entirely agree that these laws are being enacted by those who have absolutely no concern whatsoever; as to why the people have no ID at all, and that they are being entirely disingenuous, regarding the ‘proven to be fantasy’ claims of even the remote possibility these laughable proclamations regarding any rampant ‘multiple voter’ fraud. These people are nearly all likely; not showing their ID; because they most often do not HAVE one available – not because of ‘the refusal to offer’ one; as required at the voting booth.