The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Legislative Wrap-Up: Voter ID

2013 January 16

States across America considered legislation in their most recent sessions that would change voting and voter registration requirements. Some of these bills expanded registration periods and access to absentee ballots. More often, however, lawmakers focused on legislation requiring voters to provide some form of photo identification before casting their ballots.

This is part of a broader, decade-long trend toward Voter ID laws across the nation. The National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan organization that researches and assists state lawmakers, reports that 46 states have considered nearly 1,000 Voter ID bills since 2001. To date, 24 of those states have decided to pass major Voter ID bills.

This number includes 3 states that passed photo ID laws last session: PennsylvaniaVirginia  and New Hampshire (the latter after overriding a governor’s veto). The new Pennsylvania and New Hampshire laws both amended previous law to limit the kinds of identification acceptable at the polls.

Virginia’s Voter ID law, on the other hand, amended previous law to expand the list of acceptable identification. It also repeals the process of signing an affidavit in lieu of producing identification. Instead, Virginia has moved to a system in which voters without proper ID can vote via a provisional ballot as long as they are able to later produce valid identification.

Several states considered amending their constitutions to allow Voter ID requirements, though only Minnesota s proposed amendment will go before voters this November, despite the governor’s disapproval. 

The issue is a fairly contentious one, with most Voter ...

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