New Fronts in the Voter ID Fight
Though the election is over, the battle over Voter ID laws is far from over.
Legislators in at least three states introduced new proposals pushing for stricter voting requirements, unfazed by the wave of defeats courts and legislatures doled out before the election. The courts struck down proposed restrictive voting laws in nearly a dozen cases.
Montana state Rep. Ted Washburn (R-Bozeman) proposed a law, that would limit valid voter ID to driver licenses or tribal ID cards. This means that student IDs, military or veteran IDs and passports would no longer enable voters to cast their ballots. Washburn claimed that the law is a necessary requirement to prevent voter fraud, though a state audit shows that no such fraud exists in the state. He also called for measures that would require out-of-state students to establish residency in order to acquire the proper government issues identification to vote.
Virginia already passed a voter ID law, but state Delegate Mark Cole is seeking to further reduce the forms of acceptable identification. Currently, voters can use a wide variety of ID to vote, including utility bills or bank statements that list their address. Cole said he would prefer to require voters have state-issued photo ID, though he admitted that this may be cost-prohibitive.
Cole also cited alleged fraud as the reason behind his proposal. “The only reason I can think to oppose something like this is you want to make fraud easier,” he said.
There is virtually no evidence of fraud in Virginia.
Iowa rejected voter ID legislation before the election, but Secretary of State Matt Schultz recently pushed a proposal that targets absentee voters. His plan would require that voters sign their ballots, in order to compare that signature to the one on their voter registration form.
The Des Moines Register has highlighted numerous problems with the proposal, including the cost and difficulty of implementing a successful signature verification process, as well as the absence of the type of voter fraud that Schultz’s proposal claims to target.
Both proposals have the potential to disenfranchise voters. Requiring citizens to get a specific form of identification places an unfair burden on minority, low-income, elderly and student voters—especially when there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the United States.The election is over, but new proposals indicate that the fight over voter ID will rage on.
Kevin Jersey is a reporter for Campus Progress. Follow him on Twitter @wordsnotbullets.