I am on my way to DC for the 2012 Winter Conference of the National Association of Secretaries of State. I hope the chief election officers can shed light on why more and more states, including Maine, Virginia and Iowa, are pushing voter ID laws.
Although the photo ID requirement is a solution in search of a problem, voter ID has become a “cause” for Republicans. Mark Tompkins, a political science professor at the University of South Carolina, told the Post and Courier:
Republicans have turned it into a cause, although there isn’t much evidence out there that voter fraud is a problem. But they feel they’re neglecting their base to not pay attention to it.
But as NPR reported, “to get an ID, you need an ID”:
In most states with voter ID laws, citizens must present birth certificates to obtain new photo IDs. Seniors and those born in rural areas, in particular, face a difficult time meeting the requirement because birth certificates weren’t regularly generated in the 1930s and earlier. And many of these people were delivered by midwives, who often improperly spelled babies’ and parents’ names on birth documents.
If a state does have a person’s birth certificate, they often must present a photo ID to obtain a copy. That can put an individual back at square one.
Elizabeth McNamara, president and chair of the League of Women Voters, observed:
People are caught in a catch-22: You need a birth certificate to get this ID, but to get a birth certificate you have to have an ID.
With the clock ticking, we must move beyond identifying the problem.
I am chief evangelist for a citizen-led initiative that offers solutions. Our cause is to empower voters to exercise the right to vote. The Cost of Freedom Project is developing location-based apps that will help voters quickly access the information they need to get a voter ID.
Voters who visit our website will be frustrated and angry that they have to bear this unreasonable burden. We will design a site that encourages users to keep going: Your vote is your voice. Do what you have to do to make your voice heard.
Given the digital divide, voters will also be able to access information via text message.
To get involved in this citizen-powered voter education initiative, visit us at Facebook.com/CostofFreedom. You can also join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #CostofFreedom.