“The U.S. Supreme Court upheld voter ID requirements in concept three years ago, but justices said then that they might reconsider if opponents could produce actual voters who had been turned away because they could not get ID,” the Tennessean reports. This may not be far off as more and more reports of voters without photo ID begin to emerge. Although officials in at least three states have attempted to help voters adhere to the law, voters and advocates caution that it’s not enough if voters are not “plugged in” in the first place.
To prevent the disenfranchisement of Tennessee’s 230,000 senior citizens who have non-photo IDs, state officials are planning a campaign to teach them about the new photo ID law that goes into effect during the 2012 election. The new voting law essentially overrides another law that makes it more convenient for drivers over age 60 to renew their driver’s licenses. That law allows seniors to renew driver’s licenses—without a photo—online through the mail.
Transportation for elderly people in assisted living homes as well as long waiting periods at the DMV for seniors with disabilities are major concerns for groups like Tennessee Citizen Action, reports Chas Sisk at the Tennessean.
“I think we’re going to find that there are a lot of those people that don’t have the means or the opportunity to make that trip back to the DMV,” said the group’s executive director, Mary Mancini.
South Carolina’s pending photo ID law has not only raised issues for rural and elderly voters who may not be “plugged-in” enough to know about the governor’s one-day offer to provide free rides to the DMV, but the number of voters who may have needed those free rides has increased. On Tuesday, the State Elections Commission updated the number of registered voters without ID from an estimated 178,000 to a current count of 216,596.
Despite Governor Nikki Haley’s offer to provide free rides to voters who need a photo ID, only 25 people called to ask for a ride. But, South Carolina Progressive Network says this is most likely because voters who do not have ID are not “plugged in.”
“They’re citizens. They’re voting. They have voter registration cards. But they may be rural, they may be poor, they may be elderly, and this is a demographic that’s hard to reach,” says the group’s director, Brett Bursey in an Associated Press report.
Students are another population affected by photo ID policies.