Residents of Virginia and Arkansas may be getting carded at places other than nightclubs come 2014. Both states have passed stricter election laws that require voters to show approved photo ID before they can cast their ballots. On Monday, the Republican-controlled Arkansas legislature overrode a veto from Democratic governor Mike Beebe, who called the law “an expensive solution in search of a problem.” Republican governor Bob McDonnell signed Virginia’s bill into law on March 26. Both laws are part of the “endless partisan cycle of fights over the election rules,” says Rick Hasen, an election law expert and professor at the University of California at Irvine. The classic conservative argument is that such laws are needed to combat voter fraud. The classic liberal retort is that voter fraud is a red herring and such laws are really attempts to suppress voters who lean Democratic—because voting blocs like the young, elderly and minorities disproportionately lack photo ID.
Hasen, author of The Voting Wars, says that voter fraud is a small problem but that impersonation voter fraud—the type such laws protect against—is “virtually non-existent.” A more powerful reason that Republicans and Democrats continually engage in these bouts over the rules, he says, is that both sides can use them to excite their bases: GOP supporters get riled up about the prospect of Democrats stealing elections and liberals get fired up about the prospect of Republicans trying to suppress them. Both new laws require the states provide free IDs to voters who lack them.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 11 states currently ask voters to flash photo ID when they show up to the polls. (The NCSL does not yet count Arkansas or Virginia in that tally because the laws aren’t set to go into effect until 2014.) Of those, four are what they dub “strict,” meaning that if voters don’t show their photo ID on the day of the election, they have to take an additional step—like visiting an election official the next day with proper ID—for their vote to be counted. The “non-strict” states have easier recourse, says NCSL’s Jennie Bowser, meaning that a voter without photo ID might be able to have someone vouch for them on the spot or sign an affidavit swearing to their identity: no second trip required.
Full Article: Voter ID Laws Pushed By Republican Lawmakers | TIME.com.