By Rosemary Eng
A non-profit, non-partisan organization called VoteRiders https://www.voteriders.org works to help people struggling with voter ID issues.
VoteRiders leaves the legal and political battles around voting to “partners” such as the ACLU of Arkansas, Black Voters Matter and Florida’s UnidasUS. Workers with partner groups can contact VoteRiders when they need to help people struggling with understanding and obtaining proper voter ID.
There are many groups fighting voter ID laws in courts and legislatures across the county, but we are not one of them. What we care about and strive toward is that every eligible voter will be able to vote. VoteRiders’ focus is very practical: help citizens get their voter IDs by meeting the requirements of their respective state’s law.
As of August, 35 states have some form of voter ID law in effect. Some states like Alabama, Arizona and Mississippi have strict laws compared to states like Alaska, Florida and Washington. Some states like California and Oregon have no voter ID requirement.
VoteRiders founder, president and CEO Kathleen Unger says about 25 million people do not have the government-issued photo ID required in their states. About 10 per cent of voting age people find voting regulations so confusing they won’t vote.
Then there are the disabled, the elderly, students who don’t get drivers licenses because they bicycle or use ride-hailing services, she says.
It can be inconvenient and an effort, she explains, to get a voter ID. Government requirements often involve showing a birth certificate or certified copy of a birth certificate.
Any name change has to be documented, which means, for example, being able to show a marriage license. If there’s a divorce and a subsequent marriage affecting your name, that document has to be produced.
Getting voter ID documents can cost money, and some people – like the disabled– have trouble traveling to agencies issuing IDs.
Unger says VoteRiders field workers will help people with fees and transportation.
President Donald Trump said in August that casting a ballot should require voter ID because, after all, “If you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card—you need ID.”
President Trump set up a commission to investigate voter fraud which he claimed allowed 3-to-5 million people to vote illegally in 2016.
Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s secretary of state who was on the 11-member commission before it disbanded, said in an interview with NPR that nothing in the report showed “any substantiated evidence of voter misconduct at any scale.”
Maxwell whose work at Center for American Progress focuses on racial justice, says the end result of the tangle of voter ID requirements is that “thousands of people are prevented from voting.
“Studies show voter fraud is less than one percent. Voter ID is “a solution in search of a problem,” he says.
For free voter ID help, call 844 338 8743.