More states will require voters to show photo identification at the polls next year, as part of a wave of laws that will increase scrutiny of voters in next year’s elections.
Stricter voter-ID measures are moving forward in at least half a dozen states after Republicans gained control of many statehouses and governors’ mansions in November. The push is part of a long-running debate between those who argue U.S. voting systems are subject to voter abuse and those who say imposing tighter restrictions will disenfranchise legitimate voters.
“2012 is shaping up to be a real battleground for voters,” said Wendy Weiser, who directs the democracy program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, a research group that opposes the stricter ID measures.
Supporters say the tougher requirements will help ensure elections are conducted fairly. In South Carolina, Republican Gov. Nikki Haley on Wednesday signed a photo-ID bill that she said would improve the state’s “integrity, accountability and transparency.”
“If you can show a picture to buy Sudafed, if you can show a picture to get on an airplane, you should be able to show a picture…to vote,” she said.
Opponents of the measures argue that requiring a current driver’s license or other photo ID imposes too high a barrier on the poor and elderly, because of the need for money and transportation to acquire the documents that those groups often lack. Groups more likely to vote for Democrats, especially students and racial minorities, are less likely to have state-issued photo IDs than Republican-leaning voters, according to recent voting patterns.
Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington bureau, said the laws “are really another form of a poll tax.” The civil-rights group is pushing to have the laws repealed and may file state lawsuits claiming the laws are discriminatory, he said.
Full Article: States Toughen ID Rules for Voters – WSJ.com.