Voter ID Laws
A voter ID law requires some form of identification in order to vote or receive a ballot for an election. In the United States, voter ID laws are in place in 30 states, including Virginia, Ohio, Texas and South Carolina.
At face value, requiring voters to produce a government-issued photo ID at the polling place may seem quite reasonable, and significant majorities in polls support such requirements in order to prevent voter fraud.
However, the Justice Department, under President George W. Bush, conducted a five-year effort to find instances of improper voting and prosecute those involved —and turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to affect federal elections.
In addition, voter ID laws don’t affect all people equally. The Brennan Center found that the percentage of voting-age citizens lacking photo IDs was significantly higher among African-Americans, people ages 65 or older and low-income Americans than among the voting-age population as a whole.
Keesha Gaskins, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice Democracy Program, a judicial think tank out of the New York University School of Law, noted in a 2013 speech:
“Jim Crow was from 1865 to 1967. During that period about 400 laws were passed restricting access by people of color — not just African-Americans, but American Indians as well as Asian Americans — from accessing systems, whether it was housing, voting, marriage, by operation of law. When you look at laws that specifically applied to voting, it’s about 40 laws from 1865 to 1967. In the 2011-2012 legislative session, we passed 25 laws that restricted voting.”