8/17/2012

Updating Photo ID laws: Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are the key tests

Only five states are currently scheduled to have Photo IDs and the only state where it is likely to make a big difference is Pennsylvania.  Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, and Tennessee are safely Republican states this year.  For that matter, despite the legal appeals regarding Texas and South Carolina, they are also not really contested.  The only other state besides Pennsylvania where the new law could make a big difference is Wisconsin.  This is from Real Clear Politics:

Jennie Bowser of the National Conference of State Legislatures classifies nine of the measures as “strict photo ID laws,” meaning that prospective voters who show up at the polls without required identification have little recourse. They can cast a provisional ballot, but it won’t count unless they make a subsequent visit to the elections office with the required identification. 
Five states will use these strict laws in November: Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Two state judges have blocked Wisconsin’s law. Laws in Texas and South Carolina were denied pre-clearance by the Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act and are awaiting action by a D.C. federal court. A Mississippi law is in the early stages of pre-clearance. . . .
The court decision in Pennsylvania this week was thus a major victory.  As the WSJ wrote:
Voters who show up at their polling place without an ID will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot and present proof of identity within six days. Indigent voters may also cast a provisional ballot and sign a statement saying they couldn't obtain the necessary documents. Does all of this plausibly add up to voter suppression? . . .
Where Wisconsin stands on its Photo ID law is available here. Democrats are fighting hard in Texas and South Carolina, not because they think that it will dramatically alter those state's elections, but because they worry that if more states have these laws, it will be harder for them to claim that Photo ID laws have the bad effects that they claim.


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