Nun denies nuns Sister Julie McGuire, a
polling place inspector, would not allow fellow nuns to
vote without photo IDs in 2008 in South Bend, Ind.
were born before recording births was standard procedure.
Strict new photo ID laws could make voting
this year more difficult for 3. 2 million voters in
In November, Mississippi
voters approved an amendment requiring a photo ID, but
it must be implemented by the
legislature and would not take
effect until 2014.
In the states with strict photo
ID voting laws, voters who show
up without photo IDs generally
are allowed to vote a provisional
ballot that is counted only if the
voter brings a photo ID to a government elections office within a few days, and may not
be counted at all unless the election is close.
Six other states ask voters for a photo ID—
but will allow people without them to cast
regular ballots under certain circumstances,
such as showing other forms of identification, signing an affidavit or being vouched
for by a voter with ID. These states are Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan and
Continued from page 22
women—often must purchase copies of birth
certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees
and other documents to show name changes.
Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law
School in Los Angeles, said photo ID laws
would only stop someone from impersonating a voter. “It’s more likely that an individual will be struck by lightning than that he
will impersonate another voter at the polls.”
Suggs got her
photo ID last
summer and plans
to vote in South
this year. “I have
a whole new life,”
raise public confidence in
Hans A. von Spakovsky,
a senior legal fellow at the
Opponents warn that strict photo ID laws
will depress turnout and increase cynicism
in elections if eligible voters are turned away
simply because they lack a photo ID. While
an ID itself may be free, voters—especially
* Requires a photo ID
; Requests a photo ID
♦ Requires a non-photo ID
; Does not require an ID
Goal to reduce fraud
Seventeen states have laws requiring voters
to show a non-photo ID at the polls. Acceptable documents vary by state, ranging from
a voter registration or Social Security card
to a utility bill or gun permit.
Supporters of strict photo ID laws argue that
since most people have or can get IDs, requiring them will cut down on voter fraud and
*Will require Department of Justice approval.
SOURCES: NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF STATE LEGISLATURES,
ELEC TION BOARDS
; Calif. ♦ Colo.
* Ga. ; Guam
* Ind. ; Iowa
* Kan. ♦ Ky.
; Miss. ♦ Mo.
; N.C. ♦ N.D.
♦ R. I.
* S.C.* ; S.D.
Texas* ♦ Utah
♦ U. S.
; Vt. ♦ Va.
Voter laws under fire
The Obama reelection campaign, the Congressional Black Caucus and Democratic
groups are mobilizing to fight the new voting
laws. AARP Foundation Litigation has been
involved in lawsuits challenging voting laws
in several states, including an Indiana photo
ID law case that reached the U.S. Supreme
Court. Among those blocked from voting by
that Indiana statute in 2008 were a dozen
nuns in their 80s and 90s from South Bend,
Ind. The high court upheld the law though it
left open the possibility of a later challenge.
“AARP continues to be very troubled by
voter ID laws,” said Daniel B. Kohrman, an
attorney with the AARP Foundation. “An
older person whose passport has expired,
whose driver’s license has expired, who has
to go to the trouble of digging out a birth cer-
tificate may just say to heck with it.”
State AARP offices are working to inform
voters and help them get the documents
they need to obtain IDs. AARP supports
measures making voter ID laws more fair
for older people, including the use of sworn
statements to affirm a voter’s identity at the
polls; advance training of poll workers; and
free voter IDs for registered voters and oth-
ers for whom cost is a burden. Groups on
both sides will be closely watching the polls
in November with an eye to future lawsuits.
As for Donna Jean Suggs, her story has a
happy ending. Thanks to the persistence of
a physician and a lawyer in Sumter, Suggs finally got a state-issued photo ID last summer.
“Now I can vote,” Suggs said. “I have a
whole new life.” ;
Marsha Mercer is a freelance journalist in