The Washington Post

Eight states have photo voter ID laws similar to the one struck down in Wisconsin

(National Conference of State Legislatures)
(National Conference of State Legislatures)

Eight states, most in the South, have election laws with strict photo ID requirements similar to the Wisconsin law that was ruled unconstitutional Tuesday.

In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman found that Wisconsin’s photo ID requirement has a “disproportionate impact” on African American and Latino voters:

[I]t is more likely to burden those voters with the costs of obtaining a photo ID that they would not otherwise obtain. This burden is significant not only because it is likely to deter Blacks and Latinos from voting even if they could obtain IDs without much difficulty, but also because Blacks and Latinos are more likely than whites to have difficulty obtaining IDs. This disproportionate impact is a “discriminatory result” because the reason Black and Latino voters are more likely to have to incur the costs of obtaining IDs is that they are disproportionately likely to live in poverty, and the reason Black and Latino voters are disproportionately likely to live in poverty is connected to the history of discrimination against Blacks and Latinos in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

Wisconsin’s attorney general has vowed to appeal the ruling.

All told, 31 states have voter ID laws currently in effect, with some stricter requirements scheduled to go into effect in the future, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Of that group, eight — signified by the darkest-green shading in the map above — have strict photo ID requirements currently in place.

Such laws, as with Wisconsin’s, require photo IDs to be presented as proof of residence at the time of voting. Wisconsin voters without valid ID are allowed to fill out provisional ballots, but they have only a few days (until mid-afternoon on the Friday after the election) to present valid proof for their votes to be considered.

The eight states that have similarly strict photo ID laws, according to the NCSL, are Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia (where the requirement does not go into effect until July). New Hampshire and North Carolina are slated to join that list in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Several states, including Wisconsin, will provide free IDs.

It’s worth noting that each state’s voter ID laws vary. NCSL defines a “strict” requirement as one in which a voter who fails to bring valid photo ID on election day must take further action before their vote is counted.

Proponents of such laws argue that they keep fraud out of the system. Opponents argue that they unfairly target older, minority and low-income voters who tend to vote for Democrats. In this case, Adelman appears to have sided with the opponents.

New voter ID laws were proposed in eight states this year, while proposed measures in six other states would strengthen existing voter ID requirements. Check out NCSL’s Web site for a state-by-state breakdown.

Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

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