At first glance, requiring photo identification to vote seems natural. We require a photo ID for driving, getting into clubs, and drinking – why not voting? And everyone carries a photo ID, right?
But there are a lot of problems with photo ID laws, which require showing a photo ID to vote. First, photo ID laws are a solution in search of a problem. Requiring a photo ID is supposed to prevent in-person voter fraud, but overwhelming evidence shows that in-person voter fraud is exceedingly rare – so much so that there are more instances of lightning strikes than there are of in-person voter fraud. In other words, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than have your vote offset by someone committing voter fraud.
Instead of solving a problem, photo ID laws only serve to create them: photo ID laws create voter confusion and decrease voter turnout; they are prohibitively costly to implement; and, most importantly, they unnecessarily disenfranchise qualified voters who are unable to get a photo ID. And these burdens fall disproportionately on the poor, people of color, young people, and senior citizens. While obtaining a photo ID seems easy for most people, bureaucracy makes it almost impossible for some voters: changing documentation requirements, uninformed local clerk officials, and limited local clerk office hours are all barriers many individuals face when attempting to obtain a photo ID. And, in some areas of the country, voters have to travel over 150 miles to get a photo ID. In a nation where voting is a fundamental right for all citizens, this is unacceptable.
We need your help to stop to the spread of photo ID laws. Check to see whether your state requires a photo ID to vote. If they do, take action: call your local legislators — you can find their contact information here — and ask them to sponsor a bill to repeal your state’s photo ID law. Here’s a script to use when you call.