Since the 2010 elections we have seen an increase of disenfranchising voter ID legislation masked as an attempt to prevent non-existent voter impersonation fraud. Government-issued photo identification only laws have the potential to disenfranchise an estimated 5 million voters this fall according to a October 2011 Brennan Center study. Eight states joined Georgia and Indiana in passing restrictive photo identification laws, presenting voters in Alabama, Kansas, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Mississippi (by ballot initiative) with new challenges and barriers in order to vote. The truth is that these laws are a costly solution in search of a problem that does not exist.
While the voting rights community fights against these voter suppression tactics, we must adapt to the new reality that photo ID is required in certain states and take the steps to assist eligible voters obtain the necessary IDs in order to vote. Studies show that those without ID are disproportionately likely to be African American, Latino, low-income voters, young adults, senior citizens, and people with disabilities. For many of these eligible persons, it is no simple matter to obtain the necessary ID and for that reason we must educate voters about the new ID requirements and empower them to take the steps to obtain ID so they can cast a ballot in November.
States requiring government-issued photo ID:
States previously blocked by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act:
Note: After the June 25, 2013 Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, the following states have stated they will begin implementing voter ID laws that were previously blocked by the Department of Justice.
States where photo ID law is blocked but we must still prepare:
Wisconsin (permenantly enjoined and will not be in effect for General Election)
Pennsylvania (not in effect for 2012 General Election)
Below are resources for voters on how to obtain photo ID as well as tools for activists and organizations working to help voters acquire ID and show the impact these laws have on eligible voters.