Voter Photo ID: Not Just a TN Phenomena

Fresh off commanding electoral victories in November, Republican majorities in many state legislatures want to require voters to show photo identification at the polls, a move Democrats say is cynically designed to help the GOP during the next election cycle, according to a Stateline report.
Both political parties regularly engage in finger-pointing over what will or will not happen if photo ID rules become law. But experts say both sides suffer from a lack of information.
The prospect of voter fraud is the chief reason Republicans say they support a photo ID requirement, but documented instances of such fraud are few and far between, leading Democrats to call the GOP-backed measures a “solution without a problem.” The U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged as much in its 6-3 ruling upholding the Indiana law, though it said that the state’s interest in preventing fraud outweighs other considerations.
Democrats contend that new rules requiring voters to show photo ID will lead tens of thousands of their constituents to be turned aside at the polls. Several studies have indeed shown that minorities and the poor and elderly are less likely than others to carry valid identification, but it is difficult to say with certainty that photo ID laws cause disenfranchisement. Minority participation soared in the 2008 presidential election, including in Indiana and other states that had photo ID requirements in place. Of course, the presence of President Obama on the ticket drove much of that increase.
One important election official, Secretary of State Jon Husted of Ohio, is trying to stake out a middle position. He believes both Democrats and his own Republican Party make “extreme points” to further their arguments for or against photo ID. Husted opposes a photo ID bill being pushed by conservative lawmakers in Ohio and is instead seeking a compromise version that would allow for voters’ identities to be verified through a social security number or other means short of requiring a photo ID.

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