What do you say to someone who doesn’t understand why needing an ID to vote is considered a barrier, at best, and racism and voter suppression, at worst? Many point to needing an ID for many other routine civil activities and see it as a way to protect elections from voter fraud. How do you respond?
Federal law requires voters to provide identification information when you register to vote. Voter registration is required, in turn, by all states (except for North Dakota) and DC. States without a voter ID law verify a voter’s identity at the polls or by mail-in ballot, usually by matching your signature with that on file with the state.
People who have ID, especially a current driver’s license in their state, often have a hard time understanding the burdensome, time-consuming, and expensive contortions their fellow citizens must undergo to obtain acceptable identification to vote. To secure a driver’s license or state ID, which are the only two types of identification that are common to all 35 states’ voter ID laws, you must provide an original or certified copy of your official birth certificate and of any name change since then.
Some individuals encounter the Catch-22 phenomenon of needing an ID to procure a replacement Social Security card or certified copy of your birth certificate, either or both of which you are seeking in order to obtain an ID to vote.
An added challenge is if you cannot afford the time-off from your job, let alone the cost, to travel up to a 150 miles roundtrip to visit the closest ID-issuing office?
What is the impact of voter ID on voter fraud? Voter ID is primarily designed to prevent voter impersonation at the polls. Law Professor Justin Levitt (a nationally recognized scholar of constitutional law and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice) documented 31 potentially credible incidents where “someone may have pretended to be someone else at the polls, in any way that an ID law could fix” in the context of general, primary, special, and municipal elections from 2000 through 2014. In general and primary elections alone, more than 1 billion ballots were cast in that period.
Starfish Impact is a female founded business and the social sector is predominantly female. Why are voter ID rules more relevant for women?
80% of married women in the U.S. change their names. In order for them to get an ID, they must have original or certified copies of the name change document which must coincide with the name in your other documents such as your Social Security card. In households where the male partner handles finances, a woman may have difficulty submitting proof of residency when all the utility bills are sent to only one adult such as in a family or the landlord of an apartment building?
What is the biggest hurdle for most of the individuals you work with in getting them to vote?
Vote Riders’ on-the-ground experience, corroborated by several reputable studies, proves that voter ID has a disenfranchising impact on the 25-40 million citizens who do not have a government-issued photo ID. These individuals are primarily those who do not have a current driver’s license in their state: communities of color including one in four Black Americans, students and other young people (e.g., 20% of those aged 18-24), 25% of U.S. adults who live with a disability, older adults who are no longer driving if they ever did, and people with low income.
When you think about voting, do you see it as an obligation or an opportunity? Can you share why?
I believe that the first three words of the Constitution, “We the People,” imply the fundamental right to vote upon which the foundation of our country emanates. Moreover, I think voting is a sacred duty of each eligible citizen. I am eternally inspired by Benjamin Franklin: Upon exiting the Constitutional Convention in 1787, in response to a woman’s question, “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?”, he responded “A republic, if you can keep it.”
How can our supporters further your work? What is something that you would like to see individuals do to support free and fair elections?
For those who would be willing to help VoteRiders’ endeavors, please:
– Sign up as a volunteer, especially to engage in our phonebanks and textbanks for which we host weekly trainings on Tuesdays and Thursdays, including to follow up with all the voters being referred by our partners;
– Reach out to your networks and ask them to do likewise to implore voters with questions to call or text VoteRiders’ Helpline (844-338-8743) or to check what they need via our Voter ID Chatbot (which provides voters with automatic information and personalized assistance via SMS or Facebook Messenger); and
– Donate so we can post targeted digital ads in Orlando, Tampa, Milwaukee, Atlanta, and Houston as well as place more preroll YouTube ads for our PSAs: https://youtu.be/dZEFa6_cE7w and https://youtu.be/o8F_38H7hdg. Of course, we would be deeply grateful for your support of our programs! Please reach out to me at [email protected] if you would like more information.
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