The Hollow Defense of Voter ID Laws

Are laws aimed at voter fraud really enabling voter suppression? In this excerpt from their interview with Bill, Keesha Gaskins and Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice rebut common defenses of voter ID laws, including “everybody’s got a driver’s license!,” “what about public transportation!” and state requirements to make “free IDs” available.

Using new research, Waldman and Gaskins argue these laws represent “the first rollback of voting rights since the Jim Crow era.”

Watch Bill’s full interview with Keesha Gaskins and Michael Waldman.

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  • Phil NIddrie

    Shocking. And transparently racist.

  • –RJ–

    The states that have passed these laws SHOULD BE REQUIRED, AT NO CHARGE, TO GO TO PEOPLE’S HOMES AND CREATE THESE ID CARDS FOR THOSE THAT NEED THEM. Anything less is just another form of poll tax or from of intimidation to discourage voting, when the emphasis, properly placed, should be directed to facilitating people’s right to vote.

  • kwk50

    I just want Americans to know mean people do not win election as POTUS.

  • Debbie Anderson

    Where I live their is no public transportation, and no County transportation that does not require 48 hour notice. While I have a car so many people here do not. Some people can not walk to a State License Bureau due to disabilities, distance or other factors (those with young kids) I personally would have no problem in theory about voters needing photo ID’s in practice the it will be too hard for all voters to acquire one.

  • Rob

    The cries of “racism” are completely unfounded. I fail to see even a shred of racism in asking an American citizen to prove who they are before allowing them to vote. As citizens, we each have the right to voice our own opinion through the ballots we cast. Asking someone to prove that they are who they say they are before doing so is not racist, it’s common sense.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Bill, what about Obama and the DNC suing in Ohio to restrict the extra 3 days military personnel are given to vote?

  • Brin Londo

    How do people access money at banks, apply for a job, start up or cancel utilities, write checks, obtain social services or seek medical care without an ID? If a person cannot travel to an ID center how can they get to a polling station?

  • Army/Marine/Navy Dad

    The challenge is not to take away anything from the military, but rather to stop the Ohio Republican legislature’s rollback of the last three days of the previous early voting period for all voters, but exempting military personnel from the rollback. This is yet another transparent case of targeted Republican voter suppression, this time by allowing a group traditionally favorable to Republicans for voting opportunities denied to the electorate at large. As a father of two military children, one with a military spouse, also, I believe they deserve most all of the privileges and benefits they receive, but the opportunity for participation in democracy should be as equal as possible for all.

  • Army/Marine/Navy Dad

    Many argued that nothing was wrong with a small poll tax. On the face of it the poll taxes could be justified as a source of revenue to help fund election operations. Yet the Supreme Court struck them down, finding that they reduced election participation by minorities, comparatively less affluent as a group than whites, and other poorer Americans. Voter ID requirements are aimed at suppression of the same groups that the poll taxes targeted. They do not, however, have even an ostensible justification like the revenue-raising purpose of the poll taxes. No one has demonstrated more that a statistically microscopic incidence of voter impersonation anywhere in the United States. Yet to “solve” this nonexistent problem, the voter ID laws place substantial obstacles before literally millions of legitimate voters, predominantly in the same groups that the poll taxes targeted. If the ID laws did address a real voter fraud problem, but did not politically benefit the Republicans, they, particularly their Tea Party faction, would howl Big Brother, loss of liberty, governmental intrusion, and their other usual exaggerated righteous complaints about how un-American a mandatory voter ID requirement is.

  • Anonymous

    And how exactly are those same people going to get to the polls on election day?

  • Anonymous

    I’d love to talk to some of these mythical people that cannot obtain IDs. I’m not saying that some people don’t currently have valid ID, but obtaining one is not hard. Take a look at the testimony in the Pennsylvania ID case.

    When cross-examiner by council, the people who did not have IDs came up with every excuse in the book. “I don’t know how to use the phone.” “I lost the paperwork” “I don’t like to use public transportation” “It’s too expensive” (it’s FREE)

    I think it’s a sad statement to our society that people are so lazy or stupid that they cannot (or do not want to) obtain a valid ID for voting. If the people complaining about this spent as much time and effort actually obtaining an ID, they would have a shiny new ID card months ago.

  • Martin Steele

    I agree it is hard to imagine difficulty getting an id card. However… Here in Texas there are some counties that do not have a DMV. Or the county is so big you might need to travel 100 miles (round trip) to visit the DMV. Or there are counties in this country that issue ID cards once a month (work that into your schedule…). What about the person in an assisted living home who’s voted every election since 1960, but no longer has ID. Enjoy making grandma go out to get new ID?

  • Martin Steele

    Perhaps the cries of racism are just as invalid as the cries of voter fraud.

  • Anonymous

    My grandparents always had IDs. And they lived in rural Wisconsin. Your post sounds like a lot of excuses.

    If you want to look no further as to why ID makes sense you can watch this:

    The left has been pushing hard on the “Only 50 people since 2001 have committed voter fraud.” This reporter seems to have uncovered a little more than that – in one state – in two months – by himself.

  • LKRH

    Video’s broken!

  • moderator

    Seems to be working now, please try it again! Thanks for letting us know.

    sean @ moyers

  • DJoe321

    The number that the democrats keep referring to was pulled from a study done by a group of republican lawyers. They were hoping to have evidence to make their case for voter id. Instead, they helped prove the case for the dems.

  • Deepwater 916

    Old folks living in retirement homes, including Former House Speaker Jim Wright, don’t have, or need ID. They don’t drive themselves anywhere.,

    Google how Speaker Wright had trouble getting a photo ID to allow him to vote….

  • Meggie

    We had a letter in our local paper from a guy who insisted that there was fraud and he could prove it because ‘even Canada has voter ID laws.” Of course, he didn’t list the long list of things that Canadians accept as valid Ids….not just drivers’ licenses and things that can only be obtained via several trips to the DMV (or things that rich people have. such as valid passports. Can’t use an expired one of those even if the photo still looks like you). In Canada, people can use things like library cards, ATM cards, bus passes, their equivalent of Social Security or Medicare cards and being vouched for by others and a long list of other stuff that people more likely to not vote for conservatives ACTUALLY MIGHT HAVE. . If the conservatives want to worry about fraud, let them look at Ohio in 2004, where the voting machines were obtained from the Koch brothers of machine manufacturers and were so vulnerable to fraud and so hard to do recounts….the results could be changed merely by driving by a polling place and clicking away at a computer. The exit polls said that Kerry was going to win big, and the guy who invented the exit poll had another business in which he validated election results in 3rd world countries by comparing election results to results of exit polls and if there were a big enough discrepancy, the election was deemed fraudulent. Anyhow, the pollster said that THIS TIME the results didn’t match because Democrats were too cooperative with the interviewers. He never claimed this about any his polls where there was agreement and he didn’t say why the same results would have been declared fraudulent if the election had taken place in a third world country instead of Ohio. And a profession group of statisticans who monitor such stuff said that the pollsters’ explanation was bullcrap. If they really want to stop fraud, maybe they ought to stop buying voting machines whose results fall far from those of exit polls. The fraud doesn’t come from improper IDS, but with messing with the inner mechanics of the voting process and what is known of how that works indicates that this is a scam preferred by the GOP..

  • Meggie

    it’s not just that….old people have other forms of IDs that ought to work…including being known to poll workers who are likely to be neighbors. I have only a pass port, don’t drive, and I can use that until it expires…never mind that the photo still looks like ME…it won’t be any good because the GOP doesn’t want me to vote. I have a Costco card with my photo, a Medicare card, and a couple of bank cards, all with my name, and I could easily present something with my name and address. Last time I voted, the woman who lives across the alley and helped me look for my lost cat apologized for having to ask me for an ID…of course,, this is a way of discouraging people from voting who are less likely to vote the way ACORN and the GOP want them to vote. People less likely to have cars….old people, minorities, students. It’s infuriating, not just the hoops that they make one jump through in hopes of discouraging people who lack transportation, but the idea that it’s just fine in a democracy to behave that way. That is the GOP,which in the last 30 years has become more and more about “getting away with stuff.”

  • Anonymous

    For the short time that PA had voter ID law in place, I went into the polling place, a friend I’ve know for 25+ years mentioned which family members had been in already (by name), talked about construction on our street, talked about happenings at church, etc then asked to see my ID. Really? You’ve identified me better than any laminated card ever could.
    My face & my family can’t be forged like ID cards can.

  • Anonymous

    In PA the non-driver’s license ID is $27.50, plus the cost of the copy of the birth certificate, plus the cost of the copy of the marriage certificate (name change), plus the cost of the day off of work, plus the cost of public transportation. If you think this is easy or affordable for families making minimum wage, you would be wrong.
    If the states decide that every voter needs a photo ID to vote, then they need to provide that ID free of charge when a person registers to vote!

  • Anonymous

    I live quite a nice life without having to show my ID for anything. This month I saw 4 doctors and had surgery at a hospital without showing any ID. I don’t write checks, I use a debit card, but many people simply pay in cash. The fact that you can’t think of people who live different than you does not mean those people don’t exist.
    As for your last question, most people get a ride with a neighbor, a church bus takes a group, or they vote absentee. The polling place is local. The DMV/DOT is not usually.

  • Anonymous

    You prove your citizenship and your identity when your register to vote. When you vote, you verify that identity with your signature on the book.
    Since in-person voter fraud is virtually non-existent, the GOP/TP has created a solution for something that is not a problem.

  • Anonymous

    I believe that if a state requires a photo ID it should create it and give it free of charge at the time a person registers to vote.

  • Ghostdog

    Ask a friend or family member to take you to get a State ID. You can get ID’s on weekends. You have 4 years to plan for it. Im sure you can find one weekend free to get an ID. If they cant afford it I am all for giving it to them free thru the state.

  • Fred Powell

    The title of the video is “The Hollow defense of voter ID laws” and you just gave a few more examples.