The right to vote is under attack all across our country.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 requires that cities, counties and states with histories of discriminatory voting laws seek federal permission before changing their election rules. Lately, the Supreme Court has made it easier for jurisdictions with troubled pasts to enact restrictive voting laws.
A total of 34 states have passed laws requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. But with more than 11% of American citizens (over 21 million Americans) currently lacking these photo IDs, it’s clear that such laws could have a disastrous effect.
If left to stand, these laws could make it harder for key Democratic groups, including people of color, to get to the polls this fall. It is essential that all voices are heard. Here’s a rundown of the five most restrictive and least restrictive states (in terms of Voter ID laws).
The Five Worst States to Vote In
In 2013, Arkansas legislators passed an unconstitutional voter ID law that unnecessarily restricts and impairs our citizens’ right to vote. The measure requires that voters present a limited range of government-approved forms of identification. Out-of-state college IDs, for instance, are not allowed. And unlike some other states’ ID laws, this one does nothing to help voters get ID, such as providing transportation to government offices.
North Carolina’s new law requires strict government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot, cuts the number of early voting days by a week, eliminates same-day voter registration during the early voting period, makes it easier for vigilante poll watchers to challenge the validity of eligible voters, and expands the influence of unregulated corporate money in state elections.
Texas also passed restrictive regulations on voter registration groups that could cut thousands out of the political process. It also enacted a strict voter ID law that could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Texans, particularly Latinos. Based on Texas’ own data, 600,000 to 800,000 registered voters do not have the government-issued ID needed to cast a ballot, with Hispanics 46 to 120 percent more likely than whites to lack an ID.
Georgia has one of the toughest and oldest versions of voter ID laws not allowing voters to cast a regular ballot without first showing valid photo ID. In addition, the State reduced the various forms of identification that voters can use from 17 to six, and makes government issued photo identification absolutely required in order to vote.
What’s worse than the voter ID law in Georgia is the driver’s license law. A new applicant must show a birth certificate, a marriage certificate if the name on the birth certificate has changed because of marriage, plus a Social Security number, and at least two proofs of residence.
Ohio is now embroiled in a last-minute legal scuffle over provisional ballot procedures. Since 2006, if Ohio voters don’t show some kind of ID at the polls, they fill out a provisional ballot and have 10 days to bring ID, in person, to the board of elections. The law states that an election official fills out the provisional ballot affirmation indicating what kind of ID, if any, a voter shows.
The Best States to Vote In
I know it’s more than five, but the following states do not require an ID at a polling place: California, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Hats off to these fair and democratic states!!
By Carol Sainthilaire