Although a number of states have enacted photo ID laws since January–Alabama, Kansas, Rhode Island (after days of confusion), South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, and Wisconsin–not everyone has jumped on the bandwagon. Governors have vetoed voter ID laws in Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Minnesota.
Ohio is the latest of Nonprofit VOTE’s partner states to reject voter ID laws that would mandate photo ID, despite the fact that many–particularly older and younger voters–don’t have one. Earlier this summer, a voter ID provision was removed from election legislation in Ohio at the behest of Secretary of State Jon Husted who said that the “rigid” photo ID provision “does little to protect against fraud and excludes legally registered voters’ ballots from counting.” And two weeks ago, an Ohio House leader acknowledged that a separate attempt to pass voter ID legislation also failed.
Although asking voters to show a photo ID may be a reasonable requirement in the long run, the rapid implementation of such laws is troublesome. It is essential that state governments first ensure all eligible voters have free photo IDs before making them a requirement to vote, particularly because the financial barrier is just one obstacle. Voters must still invest time and other resources into acquiring identification–consider how long your last trip to the DMV was–which many simply cannot afford to do, especially on short notice. Some states have started to make IDs available, but information about how to obtain one, as well as long lines have already thwarted some.
Track the status of voter ID laws in every state, and remember that as laws change, nonprofits can help ensure that their clients are aware of new requirements, and thus able to successfully cast their ballot on Election Day. Learn more about registering to vote and ID requirements in your state.