VIDEO: Your Voter ID Questions Answered
A couple of weeks ago, we started getting questions from our readers about Voter ID laws. So what's the big deal? Don't people need a photo ID to do pretty much anything in today's world?
Turns out it's not that simple. Angela Peoples, Policy and Advocacy Manager at Campus Progres, takes on your questions in our latest video:
(Note the retro “Pop-Up Video” styling…we’re excited that it’s back on the air.)
Mark asks: Why wouldn’t someone have a government-issued ID? Don’t you need one for pretty much everything?
It’s true that a number of Americans do have a government-issued ID but the interesting thing about these laws and the challenge that we’re facing is that they’re not just saying that you have to have a government issued ID, they’re asking for very specific forms of government ID. There are a number of cases where someone may have a government issued ID, but because these laws are new, they may not meet all of the requirements that are necessary to be able to cast a vote in the election.
A good example is somebody who is an out-of-state student. Let’s say that you’re a student; you’re from Michigan, your ID is from Michigan, you got your driver’s license when you were in high school, but you want to go to school in Ohio. And your state ID is a Michigan ID, it’s not an Ohio ID. Under some of the new laws you would not be able to vote if your ID didn’t have the same address as the new state where you were living.
Studies have shown us that millions of Americans just don’t have this form of ID. So regardless of the reason, whether it’s because they don’t need it in their day-to-day life or they just don’t have an ID or maybe their ID is just expired. Whatever the reason, we don’t think it should be a barrier to prevent people from participating in their democracy.
Sarah asks: If a person does not have a driver’s license, then are they required to go to a DMV and pay money to get an ID to re-earn their right to vote?
It’s different in various states. Some states are offering these IDs for free, but they’re not actually free. They come at a cost to the state and to the taxpayers in the state. And this is in the face of a lot of states who are saying there’s no money for education, no money for healthcare, no money for transportation. They’re cutting back their budgets, but then they’re passing these laws that cost millions of dollars to produce “free IDs.” There’s also a cost associated with producing some of the documentation that’s necessary to get your ID. It costs money to reproduce your birth certificate or to get a new social security card.
There are also a lot of situations where states are cutting hours for their DMVs. If you need to go get a new ID, a lot of times folks have to take off of work– there’s a cost associated with that. Maybe you have to find childcare, maybe there’s a cost to get transportation to the DMV. These DMVs have limited hours–between nine to five–that’s often the work hours for a lot of folks. So there are a lot of other costs associated with these voter ID laws, not just the cost of producing or getting a new ID.
Shauna asks: Is this just an effort to create a bunch of extra loopholes in the voting system in order to prevent those who are less educated or economically successful from casting their vote?
Unfortunately with these new laws, a lot of the proponents of the laws say, “well we’re passing them because we have to stop voter fraud.” But the reality is that (1) there is no evidence of broad-based voter fraud and (2) if there was voter fraud, these laws would do nothing to combat the voter fraud or voter impersonation. In fact you’re more likely to get struck by lightning than to commit voter impersonation fraud. So the only effect that these laws will have is to limit access to voting and to disenfranchise low-income people, young people, people of color, even veterans and our elderly.
Amanda asks: What prompted Republicans to introduce voter ID legislation? Is it because of Obama’s ability to bring out students and minorities in record numbers?
I cannot say what encouraged one state legislator or another to institute or to try to pass a voter ID law, but what I can say is that the expressed intent of combating voter impersonation is not achieved. There’s no voter impersonation fraud and these bills will not do anything to combat voter impersonation fraud.
Melvin asks: Just discovered your website this evening, and the Voter ID laws have me incensed. What can I do to get involved in fighting against this kind of legislation nationwide?
Well, first of all, thank you so much for checking out our website; we’re glad to have you. One thing I would say is to check out our site. There’s a map if you look at the site, campusprogress.org/VoterID. You’ll see a map, and check out where your state falls. Has your state passed a new voter ID law? Have they passed another form of voter suppression? Are there any new legislation that you have to be ready for when it comes to the election time? So educate yourself, educate your friends and your family. If you do have to get a new ID, go get it. Go out, get the information that you need and tell your friends and your family and go out and vote. And the next step I would say is to check out our website and stay up-to-date on all of the news for voter ID at campusprogress.org/VoterID.
- 21.8% of eligible Black voters in Indiana do not have the proper form of photo identification the state now requires. (Source [PDF])
- About 12 percent of eligible voters do not have the identification to satisfy these ID requirements. (Source)
- Missouri estimated the state paid $6 million for the first year in which its photo ID law went into effect. Costs of about $4 million recurred each following year. (Source)
- Certain New Hampshire DMVs are no longer open on Fridays. (Source)
- The 2004 election in Ohio showed that voter fraud occurred 0.00004% of the time. (Source)
Tara Kutz is a video communications associate at Campus Progress.