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Voter ID Laws 101

The right to vote is under attack in states across the country. Conservative legislators are introducing and passing legislation that creates barriers to voting, including “Voter ID” bills that require voters to show specific types of photo identification at the polls. The claimed intent of these laws is to prevent fraud, but in fact there are almost no cases of voter impersonation. A person is more likely to be struck by lightning than he or she is to vote by pretending to be someone else.

These laws make it harder for young people, people of color, low-income people, the disabled, and older Americans to vote. It's voter suppression, plain and simple.

In May, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a law that requires a government-issued photo ID to vote. Student ID’s must have a photo, signature, and an expiration date no later than two years after the election. None of Wisconsin’s student ID’s fit these requirements. The law also shortens the period for early voting, including absentee ballots. Other states have passed similar laws.

Campus Progress exposed the fact that the model “Voter ID” law was drafted by a Washington, D.C., group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, affiliated with big business interests. ALEC says its mission is to promote “free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty.” Making it harder for people to vote does not advance those principles.

Campus Progress, working with a coalition of allied organizations and people across the country, is fighting back, acting to highlight the dangers of anti-voting laws like Voter ID for civil rights and our democracy, to expose the special interests working to enact these bills, and to defeat and roll back such measures.

Tobin is the deputy director for Campus Progress.

David is the founder and former director of Campus Progress.

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