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Voter Rights

May 18, 2012 • Volume 22, Issue 19
Should photo IDs be required at the ballot box?
By Peter Katel

Introduction

NAACP members demonstrate in New York City (NAACP)
NAACP members demonstrate in New York City on Dec. 10, 2011, against voter-ID requirements, which they equate with poll taxes many states once imposed to block African-Americans from voting. (NAACP)

A partisan conflict over voter identification is intensifying as this year's presidential election approaches. Republican state lawmakers have promoted voter-ID requirements in the name of instilling confidence in the electoral system and reducing what they argue is rampant voter fraud. The strictest laws require voters to produce an unexpired, government-issued photo ID at the polls. Studies have found little evidence of “impersonation” fraud in which someone casts a ballot under somebody else's name, but Republicans say the practice is common enough to warrant concern. Democrats, however, maintain that such fraud is rare and argue that photo-ID laws are aimed at reducing turnout by voters who lean Democratic — including minorities, students and the elderly. Some studies show disproportionately lower ID possession among those groups, but Republicans say minority turnout in states requiring a photo ID has increased.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Voting Rights
Feb. 21, 2014  Voting Controversies
May 18, 2012  Voter Rights
Sep. 15, 2006  Voting Controversies
Oct. 29, 2004  Voting Rights
Feb. 28, 1975  Minority Voting Rights
Apr. 18, 1962  Protection of Voting Rights
Mar. 19, 1958  Right to Vote
Feb. 24, 1954  Eighteen-Year-Old and Soldier Voting
Sep. 13, 1932  The Solid South and Political Sectionalism
Jun. 18, 1928  Voting and Non-Voting in Elections
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Domestic Issues
Voting and Suffrage
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