New laws in 10 states requiring voters to show IDs could present serious challenges to voters without financial resources and transportation, according to a report released Wednesday. The study by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, which opposes the new laws, found several obstacles that could keep voters from being able to cast ballots, including limited access to offices that issue the IDs required under the new measures. “The advocates of these laws kept saying we’re going to provide these IDs for free and that’s going to eliminate all of the problems,” said Keesha Gaskins, co-author of the report. “We found the ability to get documents isn’t that simple. The documents are costly for many, many voters and there are serious transportation barriers for many voters. We just found really significant problems.” The study comes on the heels of closing arguments in a trial over Texas’s new law, in which Justice Department lawyers argued that requiring photo IDs from voters would disenfranchise the elderly and minorities.
Republican state attorneys general defending the laws have said they prevent voter fraud and make the voting system more secure. The laws vary, but generally require registered voters to show a state-issued photo identification in order to cast a ballot. “The Texas voter ID law does not disenfranchise voters,” Texas state Attorney General Greg Abbott told reporters as the trial closed last week in Washington.
A federal three-judge panel is expected to decide the case by Labor Day. Echoing the Justice Department’s argument that the laws are burdensome, the Brennan Center report found nearly half a million eligible voters in the 10 states do not have access to a vehicle and live more than 10 miles from their nearest state ID-issuing office.