Even as the feds move to block South Carolina from requiring voters to show a photo ID, a handful of other states are set to ring in 2012 with new laws mandating that voters produce picture identification cards before they are permitted to cast ballots. Beginning on Jan. 1, new laws will take effect in Kansas, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas requiring residents present a certified government-issued ID if they want to vote, according to a list of new 2012 laws compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Civil rights groups like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which co-authored an extensive report earlier this month detailing 25 voter restriction measures that passed in 2011 – eight of which were photo ID laws — say the measures represent a coordinated conservative effort to repress the voting rights of minority groups.
“Many surprises came out of the 2008 elections, including record turnout, registration and participation,” said Hilary Shelton, NAACP’s Washington bureau director, who called the number of voter laws that passed last year “unprecedented.”
“If you look at who is most heavily targeted through voter suppression through these tactics, you see they are progressive voters who happen to be African-American and poor,” he said.
Last week, the Department of Justice agreed and rejected South Carolina’s effort to require photo ID’s.
“…(T)he state’s data demonstrate that non-white voters are both signficantly burdened by [the photo ID requirement] in absolute terms, and also disproportionately unlikely to possess the most common types of photo identification among the forms of identification that would be necessary for in-person voting under the proposed law,” Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez wrote in a letter to South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson.
As a jurisdiction with a history of discrimination in voting, South Carolina is required to submit changes in voting procedures to the Justice Department or a court for clearance under the Voting Rights Act before such changes can take effect. It remains unclear whether the department act against other states with voter ID laws.
The new photo ID requirements are among dozens of new laws taking effect next week, including those affecting civil unions, alcohol and drug policy, human trafficking, impaired driving and military and veterans.
Full Article: New laws in 2012: More voter ID – MJ Lee – POLITICO.com.