Keesha Gaskins, Senior Counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program and Sundjeep Iyer, the Principal Quantitative Analyst at the Brennan Center at NYU School of Law recently wrote “The Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification”, a brief analysis of some of the difficulties that eligible voters face when trying to attain their voter ID.
Ten states have implemented highly controversial and restrictive voter ID laws: Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. The Voter ID law requires for individuals to have government photo ID’s in order to vote. The problem is that 1 in 10 eligible voters do not have the specific paperwork that is required to get the ID. Federal courts declared that states with restrictive voter ID laws must make the necessary paperwork available without a cost. But for the 10 percent of voters without these documents, the burden reaches further than a financial one.
- Many live in rural areas with minimal public transportation options.
- Many ID issuing offices maintain extremely limited hours; a few days a month for a few hours a day.
- More than 10 million eligible voters live more than 10 miles from their designated ID-issuing offices.
- 1.7 million of those eligible voters are black and Hispanic.
More than 10 miles for voting rights
Finding an open ID office
Most ID office have irregular and reduced hours of operation, limited weekend hours, reduced business hours in areas with high concentration of people of color, and sometimes even idiosyncratic hours.
Some ID offices maintain hours so bizarre that it is necessary to consult a calendar to determine when the office is open. The office in Sauk City, Wisconsin is open only on the fifth Wednesday of any month. But only four months in 2012 have five Wednesdays. Other offices in Wisconsin are open only once every two months: For example, the office in Phillips is open only on the first Wednesday of February, April, June, August, October, and December.
In Alabama, the Rockford office is open only on the third Thursday of the month.
In Mississippi, the Woodville office is open only on the second Thursday of each month.
Limited ID office access in rural areas
In areas that are more rural and a higher concentration of African American and Hispanic eligible voters, there are fewer ID offices available and most are open less hours than in their white neighboring counterparts.
The not-so-free cost of Voter ID
Although the ID itself may not be at a cost, the documents needed to get the voter ID are not free: Official birth certificate $15-30, Passport $135, Replacement naturalization certificate$345, Copy of marriage license $5-40.
The systematic difficulties that underprivileged individuals will face as they attempt to get their voter ID’s make it very difficult to believe that the law was not passed in order to keep certain unwanted peoples away from the voting polls. The number of people that go to the polls in the 10 aforementioned states will be much less than in the past.
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