Super Tuesday Voter ID Requirements: A Map of States Requiring Identification for Voting

Super Tuesday voters in North Carolina and Arkansas will face more stringent voter ID requirements as they go to the polls. This comes as part of a larger trend of voter ID laws being implemented across the nation over the past four years.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, eight states have implemented voter ID laws since the 2020 election. These states include Arkansas, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wyoming. As a result, approximately 29 million adults are affected by these new laws. It is worth noting that one in six voters reside in the anticipated 2024 battleground states, namely Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. These states now have additional ID requirements in place.

Policies regarding acceptable forms of identification for voting differ significantly from state to state. For instance, in Ohio, individuals can only use identification cards issued by the state or federal government, such as driver’s licenses or passports. On the other hand, North Carolina allows a broader range of IDs, including student IDs, military IDs, public assistance cards, and tribal cards. In some states, individuals without IDs can request free ID cards or provide affidavits to confirm their identities.

The stricter requirements for the primary elections on Tuesday have been in the works for several years. In 2018, North Carolina passed a law that was later blocked by the state Supreme Court in 2021. The court determined that the law had been driven, at least partially, by an unconstitutional intent to target African American voters.

Last year, the court overturned the previous decision following the election of two GOP justices, which resulted in the implementation of the law. According to The Associated Press, there is a federal lawsuit against the law that is scheduled to go to trial this spring.

Arkansas has implemented a new law that eliminates the option for voters to sign affidavits as a means of verifying their identities when they don’t have their IDs on hand. This option, which is still available in many other states, has been replaced with a requirement for voters to return to the polling places with their photo IDs within a specific time frame in order for their provisional ballots to be counted.

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Requiring voters to show identification has been a practice since the 1950s. However, it gained legal support through two significant Supreme Court decisions in recent decades. In 2008, the court upheld an Indiana law that mandated voters to present photo IDs, ruling that it did not infringe upon constitutional rights.

In 2013, a significant decision was made to remove a section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This section had previously mandated that states with a history of voter discrimination had to seek approval from the federal government before implementing any changes that would impact voting.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, a law and public policy group that monitors election laws, at least 25 voter ID laws have been implemented since the requirement was removed. It is worth noting that some of these laws have been invalidated by the courts.

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center revealed that over 80% of Americans are in favor of implementing voter ID requirements, which would mandate the use of government-issued photo identification for voting. This data suggests that such requirements are not inherently unpopular among the general population.

Recent ID laws have gained traction following baseless claims made by former President Donald Trump and his supporters that voter fraud influenced the outcome of the 2020 election. Despite multiple unsuccessful challenges in court, Trump’s allegations have been consistently debunked by state officials nationwide.

Ohio state Rep. Thomas Hall, a Republican who sponsored a law to require state-issued photo IDs, acknowledges that studies have consistently found voter fraud rates to be exceptionally low. However, Hall asserts that the implementation of this law brings voters a sense of security and peace of mind regarding the integrity of elections.

According to the speaker, the implementation of voter ID in Ohio has made it extremely difficult for individuals to exercise their right to vote.

According to Missouri state Rep. John Simmons, a Republican who sponsored a bill mandating a state-issued photo ID, election fraud cases are not a top priority for prosecutors. He believes that requiring a photo ID is a common-sense approach to preventing such cases.

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“Just because my home doesn’t get broken into doesn’t mean I won’t lock my doors at night,” Simmons emphasized. “We need to restore our confidence in the government.”

Eliza Sweren-Becker, the senior counsel at the Brennan Center, expressed skepticism towards the implementation of voter ID policies. According to her, these policies are responding to a problem that does not actually exist. She questioned the justification behind states putting such policies in place when the reasoning behind them is lacking.

According to Sweren-Becker, ID laws not only create barriers to voting, but they are also a part of a larger effort to make it more difficult for Americans to participate in elections. Several states, including North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, and Missouri, have implemented ID requirements along with other changes to the election process, such as absentee voting, early voting, and signature matching.

According to a report from the University of Maryland, nearly 29 million Americans did not possess valid driver’s licenses in 2020, and 7.6 million did not have any nonexpired government-issued photo IDs. The report, which analyzed data from an American National Election Studies survey, found that individuals who identified as Black or Hispanic were twice as likely as other groups to lack photo IDs. Additionally, among these demographics, individuals between the ages of 18 and 29 were the least likely to have driver’s licenses or any form of photo ID compared to other groups.

“The sad truth is that certain lawmakers deliberately design these laws in a way that discriminates against specific groups of voters,” stated Molly McGrath, a voting rights attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union. “And unfortunately, their tactics are effective.”

In Texas’ 2021 voting law, there was a requirement for mail voters to provide their ID numbers or partial Social Security numbers on both their mail ballot applications and ballot envelopes. This information had to match the details on their voter registrations. However, the Brennan Center discovered that in the state’s 2022 primary election, there were disparities among different racial and ethnic groups. Latino, Asian, and Black voters were found to be at least 30% more likely to have their application or mail ballots rejected due to this new requirement, in comparison to white voters. Some voters faced issues because their information did not match, while others left it blank either because they didn’t notice it or thought it was optional, as reported by NPR.

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According to the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA Law, an estimated 260,000 transgender individuals living in states with voter ID laws did not possess identification that accurately represented their names or gender identities during the 2020 general election. This highlights the potential challenges faced by transgender people in complying with these laws. Additionally, the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey revealed that 25% of respondents experienced verbal harassment from poll workers when their IDs did not align with their current names or gender identities.

According to a Pew Research poll, one out of every five registered voters was unaware that they would be required to present identification when casting their votes in the 2016 election.

“Many individuals tend to consider the necessities for voting, like meeting deadlines and other requirements, only in the months or weeks leading up to an election,” McGrath explained. She anticipates that the new requirements will catch voters off guard, particularly during the primaries. “Voters have busy lives,” she added.

Ohio State Representative Hall, who is currently campaigning for re-election, expressed his intentions to further strengthen election integrity by introducing additional voting laws in the near future.

Opponents of ID requirements, such as Ohio’s, argue that the push for more stringent election laws will further hinder voters.

According to Sweren-Becker, there is a concerning trend of chipping away at voting rights, which she refers to as a “death-by-a-thousand-cuts” approach.

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