When held up to legal scrutiny, there is no evidence of voter impersonation at the polls. However, millions could be disenfranchised and lose their right to vote because of photo ID laws enacted in a number of states.

The League of Women Voters is involved in lawsuits to overturn photo ID laws in several states. LWV South Carolina and LWV Texas have intervened in the Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act pre-clearance cases mentioned in last week’s blog post, and LWV Wisconsin and LWV Pennsylvania are involved in state challenges.

Each of these cases reflects two simple truths illuminated in the courts –

  1. Not one state has produced any evidence of anyone impersonating someone else at the polls.
  2. Court evidence does show hundreds of thousands of current registered voters do NOT have the required ID they need in order to vote and are at risk of being disenfranchised.

Let’s take a closer look at each state –

  • In Wisconsin the court documents show that as many as 9.3% or over 301,000 do not have a driver’s license or state ID.
  • In Pennsylvania the State Transportation Department estimates that three quarters of a million registered voters do not have a required photo ID.
  • In Texas an expert witness stated research showed as many as two million voters could be disenfranchised if the photo ID law were to go into effect. The state could not show even a single instance of voter impersonation at the polls.
  • In South Carolina elections officials say 217,000 registered voters do not have the required ID needed to vote and again not one instance of voter impersonation was found.

Of course, proponents will say that these registered voters can obtain a free photo ID from the state. In reality voters may need to pay for underlying documents (a birth certificate and/or marriage license) in order to obtain the state ID. The Brennan Center for Justice came out with a report today on The Challenges of Obtaining a Voter ID that highlights the hidden costs on obtaining so-called “free” IDs.

If you know of anyone whose voting right is in jeopardy because of problems obtaining a photo ID, please share that story with us and with the League in your area.