Changes in elections laws have been enacted many times since 1790 when only American white males were legally allowed to vote. Included were the 1870 law that allowed former slaves to vote, in 1920 women’s suffrage came about, in 1924 the Indians Citizenship Act gave Native Americans the right-to-vote and in 1964, the poll tax was banned in all federal elections. These were all considered positive changes.
Now in 2012, some Americans believe that voting rights have been taken a step backwards as many states require identification (ID) before allowing its citizens to vote.
Because of changes to state laws that require voter ID, voting could to be more difficult for some Americans as more states have pass laws requiring identification before anyone is allowed to cast a ballot. Each state now has its own requirements.
In many states, voters without photo IDs may be given only provision ballots that will only be counted if a photo is brought in later. In others, forms of identification, such as a voter registration, Social Security card, a utility bill or a gun permit may be accepted.
While those who support photo identification believe the stricter laws will reduce voter fraud, opponents say that it will depress the turnout because not all voters have the legal documents or photos required. However, most states that have passed ID requirements make the photos available at no cost to the voter.
According to the News Tribute, among those challenging the stricter voter ID legislation is the Congressional Black Caucus, declaring it will disenfranchise many African-American voters. In addition, the Obama reelection campaign has come out against voter ID and the Brennan Center states that voting would be more difficult for at least 3.2 million voters.
The laws include:
Photo ID required in Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
Photo ID requested Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Puerto Rico, and South Carolina.
Non-photo ID required in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, US Virgin Islands, Virginia, and Washington.
All other states do not require any proof of ID.
Some state voter ID laws are being challenged in the courts, one having reached the Supreme Court that upheld Indiana’s requirements. Lawsuits challenging state voter ID laws continue to be filed with the hope that in some cases it will be found illegal.
Meanwhile the debate continues about whether or not these ID laws will discourage voters from participating in the 2012 state and federal elections.