Voter ID: Good Idea? or Bad Idea? and Costly

ColorLines: The Real Cost of the GOP’s Push for Voter ID Laws <read>

One of those highly partisan issues where the facts are obscured by dug in opponents:

The effort is part of much larger push by Republicans nationwide to enact stronger Voter ID legislation. In addition to Texas, party leaders are already in talks to introduce similar bills in Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wisconsin. But as Chris Khrom wrote last week at the Institute for Southern Studies, each bill comes at a substantial cost.

Take Texas, for instance. The state faces a budget shortfall of over $10 billion. But Republican Gov. Rick Perry declared voter ID a legislative emergency to help fast-track the bill. All this despite little evidence of actual voter fraud, and plenty to suggest that the laws will end up costing states millions of dollars that they don’t have. Khrom writes that officials in Missouri estimated last year that a similar program there could cost the state’s taxpayers $20 million over three years.

And there’s more:

Studies show that up to 11% of citizens don’t have a photo ID. Forcing voters to buy cards has made states the target of lawsuits claiming such costs amount to a modern-day poll tax. To solve the problem, many states now issue free ID cards, but it’s expensive: In 2009, Wisconsin (3.5 million voters) projected a total $2.4 million cost [pdf]; Missouri estimated $3.4 million [pdf].

So what’s behind the push? Surely it’s at least partially an effort to gear up for the 2012 presidential elections. But criticism of the Voter ID bills often falls starkly along party lines. While Republicans say that they’re necessary to combat growing fraud, there’s little to suggest rampant fraud is actually taking place. Meanwhile, Democrats argue that there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that it’s the elderly, African American, and Latino voters who are most likely to vote without the types of identification that’s being required in the new legislation.

It is difficult not to believe that it is partisan politics, not voting integrity behind much of the debate. As we have said before, “As we have said before, When we are in favor of something, we ignore the costs, no matter how great. When we are against something, we highlight the costs, no matter how small.

We are skeptical of the need for voter-ID, especially considering the costs and inconvenience involved. We would like to see more proof of significant fraud and a detailed plan for serving the needs of those without conventional voter ID’s, along with the costs. Compared to no-excuse absentee voting the proven risks of fraud are much lower, while the convenience of no-excuse absentee voting seems to have the negative effect of reducing turn-out.

In Connecticut, a senator has introduce a bill for Voter ID <read>. Two representatives would go further, requiring not only Voter ID, but proof of citizenship.<read>


One response to “Voter ID: Good Idea? or Bad Idea? and Costly”

  1. citykid

    You know, it’s difficult to convince people to vote AT ALL—especially in local referenda and municipal elections—much less to vote repeatedly by posing as someone else. Why throw more obstacles in voters’ paths—like requiring a photo ID or, even more onerous, proof of citizenship—as in, maybe, a birth certificate?? There’s no evidence in Connecticut of people stealing other people’s identities in order to vote. However, there ARE many instances of senior citizens, non-drivers, people with disabilities, people who depend solely on mass transit, or those living in assisted living and nursing facilities, who just don’t have photo IDs at all or their birth certificates handy. Requiring one would effectively disenfranchise many of them. Is that the motivation behind these proposals? Hope not.

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