In eight states – Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin – voters are required to show government-issued photo identification in order to vote.
In Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan and South Dakota, voters may be requested to show a photo ID. If they are unable to show a photo ID, they are still allowed to vote if they meet other criteria.
The U. S. Supreme Court held that states with strict photo ID requirements must offer free voter IDs. While the voter ID is free, the documents a citizen must produce to establish his or her identity are not free. Those documents include birth certificates and passports. Of course, if a voter has a passport, there would no need to get a voter ID.
The cost of obtaining a certified copy of a birth certificate ranges from $5.00 in Indiana to $25.00 in Georgia. In addition to the state fee, an applicant will have to pay for postage and photocopying (if requested by mail), transportation (if requested in person) or VitalChek.com processing fee (if ordered online).
Prior to 2011, only Indiana and Georgia had implemented photo ID laws.
The photo ID requirements will disproportionately impact young and minority voters. It is estimated that 18% of young voters, 19% of Latino voters, 20% of Asian American voters and 25% of African American voters do not have government-issued photo ID.
While advocacy groups are challenging the constitutionality of photo ID laws, as implemented, voters without government-issued photo ID need assistance right now.
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law "Map of Shame"
Voting Law Changes in 2012, Brennan Center for Justice
What's Wrong with this Picture?, Advancement Project
The solution will be shared with the Election Protection Coalition, the nation's largest voter protection and education effort. The Coalition maintains the national toll-free hotline, 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
I am a founding member of the Election Protection Coaltion.