Voter ID Laws

36 states have enacted Voter I.D. laws since 2006. The laws require government-issued photo I.D. to be shown in order to verify eligible voters are indeed who they claim to be. Prior to 2006, these laws did not exist.

Their proliferation is often attributed to attempts to disenfranchise those most likely to not have government-issued I.D.; the elderly, minorities, and low-income earners. Most people take for granted things like birth certificates and other forms of documentation. But there are large segments of the population with no official documentation who are American citizens. In many cases, these people have worked, paid taxes, or served in the armed forces, but because of a life circumstances, are without the necessary identification to exercise their right to vote.

In Wisconsin Voter I.D. laws prohibited many from participating in that state’s recent primary. One man, Eddie Lee Holloway Jr., who had moved from Illinois to Wisconsin, in 2008, was denied his right to cast a ballot despite showing three forms of I.D.

The ACLU took up the cause of eligible, but disenfranchised voters by calling into question the state’s voter-ID law in court. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman will be reexamining the case. The number of people in Wisconsin affected by the state’s Voter I.D. law is estimated to be in the thousands.

The African-American community has been vocal in their criticisms of the law. They liken it to the poll taxes in effect during the Jim Crow era which imposed fees for voting on African-Americans and poor whites. Former Attorney General Eric Holder has been one of the critics of Voter I.D. laws.

The Brennan Center estimates that “about 11 percent of U.S. citizens, or roughly 21 million citizens, don’t have government-issued photo ID. This figure doesn’t represent all voters likely to vote, just those eligible to vote.”

That is a lot of people who may be turned away at the polls.