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The News Hour, the New York Times and the Washington Post have all covered the Pennsylvania lawsuit challenging voter photo ID. Like the successful Wisconsin court challenge, the case in Pennsylvania involves the League of Women Voters and focuses on the state constitution.
This time, media coverage has been interesting as well because it focuses not just on the need for voters to obtain government issued photo ID, but also on the underlying documents that states are now requiring before issuing that ID. For the 758,000 eligible voters in Pennsylvania who do not have the required ID this is a very big issue, and it is going to be a burden for all voters in every state that has enacted ID requirements.
In my own state of Georgia, we have been showing photo ID at the polls since 2006. Recent changes in state law, however, now require that to get or renew the most common form of ID, citizens must provide a birth certificate, proof of any name change, a social security card and two proofs of residence. Predictably, the state has not been prepared for these changes and so, in addition to the cost of obtaining these documents, applicants must include the cost and the burden of standing in line for hours to get a photo ID.
There is no doubt that these restrictive laws will have the most devastating impact on the elderly, the young and minority voters, but the time is ripe for reminding our friends and neighbors that sooner or later, these laws will impact everyone. It is important that state courts are recognizing the unnecessary burden these laws impose on voters, but it is more important that voter photo ID become politically unacceptable. The League is working to connect these dots for the public and putting pressure on elected officials to stop this unnecessary assault on voting rights.