Yesterday, a Pennsylvania judge upheld that state’s new law requiring voters to show a valid government-issued photo identification card at the polls. And at noon today, NJ Citizen Action, joined by state Assemblyman John F. McKeon and Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey (both D-Essex\Morris) will gather in West Orange to speak out against what they call a “tsunami of voter suppression legislation.”
According to the New York Times, 33 states already have enacted voter ID laws, with 10 states requiring photo ID. Citizen Action notes that, “In New Jersey, voter ID bills have been introduced during both the 2010-2011 and 2012-2013 legislative sessions, and nationally, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Illinois) has introduced a nationwide voter ID bill. A recent analysis by the PA AFL-CIO found that a quarter of all PA voters who have voted in every Presidential election during the last 50 years lack the ID needed to vote this November.”
Opponents claim the measures will disproportionately keep a large swath of the population from casting ballots in the upcoming presidential election because often the urban poor, minorities, students, and other segments are frequently without a driver’s license or other officially-issued ID documents. In June, one pol’s comment that voter ID laws would boost the Republican presidential vote sparked controversy. Others argue it would have little to no effect on results.
Estimates vary from 11 percent of adults in the U.S. lacking the kind of photo IDs some states now require, up to 45 percent. How much will it matter? Given typical voter turn-out, some reports say that may affect only one percent of votes, but with the memory of Florida in 2000, when only a little more than 500 votes made a difference, it’s easy to see why both political parties are taking sides.
Speaking of voting in November, Vote411.org reminds us that New Jersey registration deadlines are in mid-October, and other rules apply too.