With the elections approaching, states have released new voter ID rulings for early voting. While 34 states have already required voters to show valid identification during voting procedures, some disagree and reason the rules are unconstitutional. The new rulings issued by courts in different states spark mixed reactions, but some believe this helps maintain the status quo.
A Worthy Cause Against Fraud or a Hindrance to Voting Rights?
Last month, a federal district judge explained how the voter ID ruling is hindering the rights of people to vote freely. According to his statement, requiring voters to display one of the limited qualified IDs when casting a ballot is creating a substantial burden on individual rights. He also adds that this can have a discriminatory effect and purpose.
While some legislators see this ruling as a limitation to individual freedom to vote, others see it as a worthy cause against election fraud. Attorney General Greg Abbott campaigns the rulings as a way to ward off people who are casting ballots with names of deceased individuals, illegally registering foreign nationals, or voting twice at polls.
A Strain on Minority Voters
Jose Garza, attorney for civil rights activists, says, “This is the most restrictive voter ID law in the country, and the trial court found it was unconstitutional and intentionally discriminated against minority voters.” Attorney Garza expresses his concern on how this ruling will be implemented in the upcoming election, especially with the early voting taking place across different states.
Are There Exceptions to the Voter ID Requirements?
States with strict voter ID requirements implement specific exceptions to the rulings for the 2014 elections. As stated in the NCSL site, these exceptions apply to people who:
- Have objections to being photographed due to religious reasons (Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin)
- Have “reasonable impediment” to acquiring identification (South Carolina)
- Do not possess a valid ID or documents pertaining to identification due to a natural disaster (Texas)
- Are indigent (Tennessee and Indiana)
- Are victims of sexual assault or any form of abuse that requires them to get confidential listing (Wisconsin)
Other States Implement Alternatives to Voter ID Ruling
The remaining 19 states that have not implemented the ID requirements are using other methods as an alternative for identifying registered voters. The most common form of voter verification is identifying and comparing information provided at polls against the information on submitted files. At the moment, some states stick with the ID requirements while others remain passive yet strict with their identification process.