Voting Rights

New Report Illustrates Harmful Effect of Voter ID Laws

Recently, several states across the country have made unprecedented attempts to undermine voters’ rights across the country.  We knew these policies will keep many voters from being able to cast their constitutional right to vote, and according to a report released today by the Brennan Center for Justice, several obstacles, including transportation, office hours, and costs, make compliance with Voter ID laws a challenge:

“The advocates of these laws kept saying we’re going to provide these IDs for free and that’s going to eliminate all of the problems,” said Keesha Gaskins, co-author of the report. “We found the ability to get documents isn’t that simple. The documents are costly for many, many voters and there are serious transportation barriers for many voters. We just found really significant problems.”

The study reports that nearly half a million eligible voters in the 10 states that require voters to show ID do not have access to a vehicle and live more than 10 miles from their nearest state ID-issuing office.  As Norm Ornstein details in his op-ed in The Hill, voter ID laws are “an onerous burden on poor people who don’t drive and don’t fly in order to be able to vote, a burden that does not exist for most of us.”

Democrats have been working to combat this threat. In May, Democrats introduced the Voter Empowerment Act, comprehensive voting rights legislation that will modernize voter registration, ensure equal access to the ballot box for all Americans, and prohibit deceptive practices and voter fraud that keep people from exercising their constitutional right to vote.  Whip Hoyer and House Administration Committee Ranking Member Rep. Robert Brady have also created an interactive online voting rights app that informs voters about voter registration, new voting requirement, and early voting.

We’ll leave you with a closing thought from Ornstein’s op-ed:

“Voting is the key to legitimacy in a democracy. It is time to return to a standard that many Americans fought and died for, the right to vote without interference or suppression, and to remove obstacles in the path of legitimate voters that interfere with that right.”