WASHINGTON - The push to require a government-issued photo ID in order to vote could disenfranchise millions of voters, according to a recent report by the Advancement Project.
"Photo ID requirements would erode the integrity of elections by systematically excluding large groups of eligible voters and place them in second-class status, reversing a century-long trend of opening the voting booth to traditionally disenfranchised groups," Edward Hailes, Jr., general counsel and managing director of Advancement Project said. "These proposals significantly roll back the clock on voting rights and could have dire implications for years to come."
Legislatures in more than 30 states have considered voter ID legislation to restrict the types of identification voters can use to verify their identity when casting a vote, usually some form of government-issued photo identification like driver’s license or passport. According to the report, these bills are among the most restrictive ever to be proposed by states, making few allowances for voters who may not be able to get the required identification.
About 12 percent of eligible voters do not have the identification to satisfy these requirements and a disproportionate number of these voters are seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, low-income voters, and students.
Adoption of voter ID legislation would come at significant cost to states – up to $20 million or more, according to the report. The costs would include the expense of providing the required photo IDs free, educating voters about the new requirements, and administrative costs.
Proponents of voter ID laws often claim they are intended to combat in-person voter fraud, but studies show that this phenomenon rarely, if ever, actually occurs.