In August, when a divided Supreme Court let stand an appeals court decision striking down North Carolina’s photo ID requirement for voters, the matter might have seemed settled. The provision, which requires voters to present government-issued photo identification, strikes directly at people who don’t have driver’s licenses — the state’s poor and disabled, young adults and the elderly, and particularly minorities. The Fourth Circuit Court pointed out that the law deliberately targeted African-Americans “with almost surgical precision,” and deemed it unconstitutional. Yet more than a month after the appellate court ruling and days after the Supreme Court decision, election officials in North Carolina’s Alamance County sent packets to newly registered voters advising them on one page that photo ID was still required and on another page that it wasn’t.
Alamance County’s mistake may have been the result of bureaucratic bungling, as its officials maintained afterward, but the confusion it revealed is rampant. Confusion is in fact the most significant byproduct of the voter ID laws that predominantly Republican legislatures have enacted in 34 states. Twelve states have passed laws with strict photo ID requirements, the nub of the current confusion, but in six of those states the legislation has been struck down or substantially softened by the courts.
Even in those states, confusion engendered by the laws lingers, sometimes deterring voting more effectively than the laws themselves. Some voters don’t realize that registration and polling-place ID requirements are two different things, so that even if they are registered, they still may be prevented from voting. Many possess the necessary documents but think they don’t. Others fear the intimidation they may face at their voting precinct, the humiliation they’ll feel if they’re turned away, or the hassle of enduring a drawn-out, possibly unpleasant procedure.
Full Article: From Voting Rights to Voting Wrongs – The New York Times.