Do voter ID laws really affect minorities, students and the elderly more, and why?

In all the discussions of the new voter ID laws I keep hearing that these laws hinder minorities , students and the elderly more. I’m wondering what the factual basis is for this assertion and , assuming it is a fact, why this is true?

It’s likely this has already been answered in some of the threads on the subject but time restraints prevent me from extensive reading to find them. If anyone can link to an article or certain set of posts that speak to this directly I’ll be ever so grateful.

No links. Too sleepy to look right now.

To answer your question, in an admittedly cursory way, as I’m almost too tired to breathe without assistance, yes, minorities and the elderly are impacted by voter id laws as it presents an additional (or new) hurdle. Those faced with the hurdle of having to obtain new identification documentation may simply decide it’s too much trouble, or too costly, from a transportation perspective, or will need to provide other documentation that they also don’t have ready access to in order to obtain the new ID, and will simply not bother. I know a couple of elderly people in this situation, who are also quite upset as they never needed to do any of this before and have been voting for decades.

Generally people with adequate jobs and income also have a whole collection of documenation to go with it.

What constitutes proof of residency for example? Receipts for rent, mortgages, etc. usually; sometimes utility bills. guess what students and poor people are less likely to have? Or, they move so often and don’t haul a trunk full of papers with them, keeping a year or two of old bills and other papers. Guess who’s less likely to have the income to own a car, and so have the drivers’ license? (Or unless they are diligent, the address is out of date). Who’s less likely to have a passport to go on vacation outside the USA?

there was a news article about one lady in a state that just passed a voter documentation law who was born in Peurto Rico. To get the necessary documents for voter registration (no drivers’ license) she needed a birth certificate from some small town in Peurto Rico. She needed to spend a lot of money (for her) and it likely would not arrive in time for this election’s deadline; assuming the PR birth records people will send a document to anyone who asks from half a continent away.

Whereas the richer types would probably find no problem in spending say, $50 or $100 to get a document from somewhere; and have the phone to call long distance, a fixed and verifieable addres to get that document mailed to them.

it’s the relative cost to them of regular documents too. if the average middle class person ahd to shell out the equivalent of $500 for the privilege of voting, how many would? Do you think a driver’s license is cheap for someone who can barely afford rent and does not need one, and probably can’t find a car to practice or get the road test?

I don’t have a link or anything, but a bit of thought can suggest why they affect students and the elderly more, at least. Students may well not have a valid state ID with their current address due to going to college out of state/moving to new student housing every year/wanting to keep their home address at their parents’ house so that important mail isn’t accidentally sent to a dorm address when they’re gone for the summer. Elderly people who’ve stopped driving/been forced to stop driving may not have a valid DL any longer and may have had no need to get a state ID in its place.

And, of course, if the student’s driver license says “address A” and they are in a residence in “B”, then they have no proof they are a B resident except a may-not-be-acceptable receipt from the college, or worse yet, they have some landlady who gives hand-written receipts. So to vote, assuming they actually got registered in A, they would have to drive a long long way there and back on a Tuesday.

Wouldn’t a lot of students be using absentee ballots?

I can see that it depends on what the law designates as the requirements. It would seem to me that utility bills, rent receipts etc should be adequate, but citizens born in a foreign country may have a hard time getting a BC.

I can also see that for the poor any additional expense can be a real burden. That’s why I keep telling people it’s not the ID itself that is objectionable but the when and how it’s implemented that brings the real motives to question.

Not necessarily.

When I was in college at the University of Wisconsin in the 1980s, and living in the dorms during the 1984 presidential election, voter turnout at our polling place (which was almost exclusively dorm residents) was extremely high – they had to keep the polls open for an extra 2 hours, to accommodate all of the voters. I can guarantee you that virtually no one who voted there that evening had government-issued ID which indicated that they were a resident of that area.


I can see a concern that students could conceivably cast two votes. One locally and one via absentee ballot.

They require a photo ID and things like utility bills are useless. Suppose you are a poor rural resident of, say, PA (my birth commonwealth). You don’t drive and have no license. The state has offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh that issue photo IDs to people with no license. But first you have to find out of what is acceptable evidence and try to provide it. Then journey, at your own expense to one of the major cities and hope you can convince some pin-headed bureaucrat (whose job could well be to discourage you) that you are a citizen and resident. Got the picture. It is all too reminiscent of the way college graduates (even lawyers, even professors) in Mississippi could not pass the state literacy tests in 1950.

Actually, hardly anyone argues that the real reason has to do with voter fraud, but rather with keeping the poor from voting. Some view this with glee, some with apprehension.

Hardly anyone? Don’t most conservatives argue exactly that?

It seems to me that any state that passes such a law has an obligation to to make IDs available. Such as , you can go to anyplace where you might get a Driver’s license. What do people show for ID when they buy alcohol if they have no picture ID?

Your laws must be much different than most of the rest of the country. They wouldn’t have ID saying they as residents there because they are not. That is why they have absentee ballots. I lived in dorms in Maryland and my residence for all legal reasons was in NJ. Same with when I lived in barracks for 4 years all over the world.

:rolleyes: Not very accurate at all. Pennsylvania has over 70 locations where you can get a new photo ID. That’s at least one location per county. And they are very clear what you need to provide to get one, and it is nowhere near the difficulty you make it out to be.

Trying to compare providing a birth certificate and a utility bill to an impossible literacy test is laughable.

I’m not sure about “most of the rest of the country”. Many states allow students to declare residency in the state. Many students do this because many colleges have different tuition for in-state and out-of-state students and for other reasons.

Although for some foreign born citizens , perhaps the elderly , a BC might indeed be a problem. That’s why the laws must be implemented in a way that allows time and exceptions so that many legal voters are not left out in the “effort” to prevent a handful of in person voter fraud. It’s also why it seems so apparent that the laws are not about voter fraud at all , but simply one way to slant the election by discouraging those likely to vote for the opposition.

Well it’s true that comparing the impossible to the possible is not a good idea, but one place per county to get an ID is really not very many at all. If you do not drive (and perhaps even if you do), a county can be a pretty big place.

Which in general is much more time consuming and difficult than just leaving your residence the same. Usually involves living in the new state for over a year. Establishing residency. Getting a new Local ID or DL. States don’t give up that extra money for free. If I could have paid in state for Maryland or no state income tax while living in Fort Hood I would have. It’s harder than just getting a photo ID for where you live.

At least in my experience with a handful of states, declaring residency for in-state tuition purposes is separate from simply becoming a state residence for any other purposes. Want a local ID? Just come up with whatever the state wants for proof of residency. Now, in many cases such proof of residency is tricky for dorm-residing students to get, since they don’t have a proper mailing address or any utility bills. (I ran into some of the first voter-ID laws when I was an undergrad, and the college figured out a way to give everyone some sort of bill that fit the state requirements for proof or residency.)

No not true from experience. In many places you may declare residency after one year – that is for your sophomore year. Graduate students are often allowed to declare residency their first year. It used to be using your student ID was sufficient for ID purposes. One of big complaints about the ID laws is the specific exclusion of student IDs from what is allowed. Whether or not a state makes it difficult for students to obtain residency, I see little reason for not allowing picture student IDs to prove who you are.

I don’t see why this is an issue. NH is a state that allows students from other states to vote here. We have no ID law, either. **But **in order to register to vote you need mail with your dorm/apartment address still because a student ID doesn’t count - they don’t have addresses on them. Why would something without an address be expected count, anyway?

For voting a BC should be pretty useless for a foreign born citizen. Why would the US let someone vote who presents a foreign birth certificate without some other proof of citizenship? They need their consular report of birth abroad, passport, or naturalization documents.