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Ear to the Ground

The Voter ID Trap

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Posted on Aug 15, 2012
khawkins04 (CC BY 2.0)

Voter ID laws adopted in 10 states representing nearly half of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency will make it harder for hundreds of thousands of poor and minority Americans to vote and could decide the outcome of the 2012 election.

The 11 percent of eligible voters who lack the photo ID needed to participate in the upcoming election must travel to a government office to obtain one and, in some instances, must buy documents such as birth certificates and marriage licenses, which will be difficult for some to afford.

Travel distances and office hours also can be impediments. The most absurd example might be the city offices in Sauk City, Wis., which are open only on the fifth Wednesday of every month during a year in which only four months have a fifth Wednesday.

Other findings contained in the Brennan Center for Justice’s new report on the subject, “The Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification,” appear below.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Brennan Center for Justice:

• Nearly 500,000 eligible voters do not have access to a vehicle and live more than 10 miles from the nearest state ID-issuing office open more than two days a week. Many of them live in rural areas with dwindling public transportation options.

• More than 10 million eligible voters live more than 10 miles from their nearest state ID-issuing office open more than two days a week.

• 1.2 million eligible black voters and 500,000 eligible Hispanic voters live more than 10 miles from their nearest ID-issuing office open more than two days a week. People of color are more likely to be disenfranchised by these laws since they are less likely to have photo ID than the general population.

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