Across the country, legal challenges are mounting to voter identification laws in several states, and the outcome of the November election could be hanging in the balance. A lawsuit is underway in Pennsylvania, where voters are challenging the state’s strict ID requirement; the state of Texas is suing the Obama administration over its move to block a voter ID law; a judge in Wisconsin barred enforcement of a voter ID rule this week; and in Florida, officials sued for access to a federal database of noncitizens in hopes of purging them from voter rolls, according to the New York Times.
Democrats maintain that these laws are voter suppression efforts, with Attorney General Eric Holder calling the Texas statute a poll tax. Nearly every state that has passed such laws in the last two years has a Republican-majority legislature, and those affected by the ID requirements are mostly minority groups and urban poor, groups that tend to vote Democratic, the NYT reported. Republicans insist, however, that the laws are meant to ensure the integrity of the voting process by preventing voter fraud.
A new study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that allegedly free IDs are not accessible to all voters. Nearly 500,000 eligible voters are without access to a vehicle and more than 10 miles from the nearest state-issuing office, with scant public transportation options, the study found. While the ID in many cases is free, legal documents necessary to obtain one can cost between $8 and $20, the study found.