By Equal Voice Action
With the 2018 midterm election just days away, voter engagement efforts across the country are shifting their focus from registration to turnout.
While many may be planning on voting, research shows that some voters will be turned away from the polls due to convoluted and changing voter ID laws.
Voter ID laws are state-specific and require registered voters to show some form of identification when they vote in person. The specific rules about which kinds of IDs are acceptable vary from state to state, and some states even require identification for absentee ballot drop off.
In the past years, there have been numerous changes to these complicated voter ID rules, causing confusion among poll workers and voters alike.
A 2018 State of Voting brief released by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School revealed that voters in 23 states — nearly half the country — will face additional restrictions on voting as compared to 2010, with strict voter ID requirements as the most common type of new restriction. Overall, 13 states have harsher voter ID laws than they did in 2010, and 15 states have ramped up their voter ID laws since 2006. Prior to 2006, no states had strict photo ID requirements in effect.
A growing body of research finds that voting restrictions largely impact communities of color, low-income voters, youth, older voters, and voters with disabilities. While some may argue that voters should “simply” acquire the necessary form of photo ID, many overlook the difficulties associated with obtaining the required documents.
As outlined by VoteRiders, a national nonpartisan, nonprofit organization providing practical assistance and information to ensure voters have the right kind of ID to vote in their state, obtaining a photo ID can be a difficult and drawn out process.
“Some people may think it’s easy to get a photo ID. The thinking is: ‘Doesn’t everybody need one to drive a car, get on a plane, and buy cigarettes and alcohol?’ Well, not everyone drives or flys — including people with disabilities, older adults, and low-income individuals — and many people do not smoke or drink alcohol.”
Obtaining a current, valid, government-issued photo ID also means at least one trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which can mean taking time off of work, or traveling hundreds of miles to the nearest location.
Beyond issues of travel and time off, many individuals struggle to acquire the documents needed to prove citizenship and/or residency. To get a voter ID, many states require a certified birth certificate with a raised seal (and, legal documentation of any change of name since then) plus a Social Security card plus two acceptable documents showing your name and address – all of which costs money and can take a lot of time, impacting poor and low-income families throughout the nation.
At EVA, we believe that no citizen should be prevented from exercising their basic right to vote.
Spanning across issues and communities, EVA members and allies are driving civic engagement in varied and powerful ways, from engaging voters and fighting for voter rights, to building capacity and coalitions for effective advocacy, and seeding movements for social change. But if voters are stopped short at the polls, their voices won’t be heard.
Click here to utilize powerful resources from VoteRiders, including state-specific information on voter ID laws on printable, wallet-sized voter information cards to share within your community. Resources are also available in Spanish.
Know your rights and lift up your voice at the polls on November 6. Families must be heard.
VoteRiders is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that provides practical assistance and information to ensure voters have the right kind of ID to vote in their state. VoteRiders is the leading organization focused exclusively on voter ID.