Primaries offer first major test of voter ID laws

Citizens in 10 states required to show a photo identification before voting
Associated Press
Mar 1, 2014

In elections that begin next week, voters in 10 states will be required to present photo identification before casting ballots — the first major test of voter ID laws after years of legal challenges arguing that the measures are designed to suppress voting.

The first election is March 4 in Texas, followed by nine other primaries running through early September that will set the ballot for the midterm elections in November, when voters decide competitive races for governor and control of Congress.

The primaries will be closely watched by both sides of the voter ID debate, which intensified in 2011, the year after Republicans swept to power in dozens of statehouses.

For months, election workers have been preparing new voting procedures, while party activists and political groups seek ID cards for voters who do not have them.

The debut of the new laws in a few smaller-scale elections over the last year has already exposed some problems, such as mismatched names, confusion over absentee voting provisions and rules that require voters to travel great distances to obtain proper documentation. In one case, voters had no recourse if their credentials were challenged.

"Unless people are paying attention, and a lot of them aren't, they don't even know this law exists," said Brian Schoenman, secretary of the elections board in Fairfax County, Va., a Washington, D.C., suburb.

Supporters of the measures, mostly Republican conservatives, contend the ID checks protect against fraudulent voting and thus help build trust in government. Critics see them as a way of discouraging the kind of voters who lack picture IDs and might be more likely to support Democrats.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that states can require voters to produce photo ID at the polls without violating their constitutional rights. And last year, the high court threw out a key part of the landmark Voting Rights Act, a decision that allowed voter ID laws to take effect in states where voting procedures had been under strict federal oversight for nearly 50 years.

Georgia and Indiana adopted some of the first voter ID laws. This year, in addition to the Texas law, new or stricter photo-identification voting laws take effect in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia.

Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have approved similar action, but those measures are on hold because of court challenges. In Mississippi, black lawmakers have asked Attorney General Eric Holder to block their state's law.

When Arkansas held a special legislative election in January, dozens of mail-in absentee votes were thrown out after voters failed to include a copy of their photo ID with their ballot. The Arkansas law, passed over Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe's veto, did not address absentee voting, and the GOP-controlled Legislature is not expected to take it up during the 2014 session.

The law allows voters without photo ID to cast a provisional ballot, but the ballot will not be counted unless they show identification by the Monday after the election.

"This is in no way an effort to suppress any valid vote," said GOP state Rep. Andy Mayberry, who supported the law. "It's a measure to help secure the credibility of our elections."

Arkansas voters will have two important races to decide this year. Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, is expected to face an aggressive challenge from Republican Rep. Tom Cotton. A competitive contest for governor is also unfolding, with Republican former Rep. Asa Hutchinson likely to run against Democrat Mike Ross.

The higher-than-normal turnout expected for the midterm election will only compound the problems that emerged during the January election, according to Craighead County Election Commission Chairman Scott McDaniel, a Democrat.

"I foresee a great number, an unacceptable number of absentee voters to be disenfranchised because of this whole deal, and I don't like it," McDaniel said.

Virginia could be particularly confusing. Majority Republicans enacted a law requiring proof of identification, but no photo, in 2012. Last year, they amended the law to require photo ID to vote but set the effective date for the new law as July 1.

Virginia's primary is June 10, when voters will not be required to present a photo. But in November, they will.

"What I'm worried about is you've got a good number of communities of elderly, and foreign-born citizens who speak different languages," Schoenman said. "And we'll only have four months to get ready."

The state has about 330,000 more registered voters than licensed drivers, which is why minority Democrats last week unsuccessfully sought $250,000 to pay for the photo ID cards voters must have by November.

Democrats will be seeking to safeguard every potential vote. Last year's attorney general race was decided by 11 votes. This fall, the Senate seat held by Democrat Mark Warner is on the ballot, and the GOP needs to gain only six seats to claim the majority.

In Texas, as many as 600,000 voters could be prevented from having their ballots counted because of the state's newly enacted photo ID law, according to officials with Battleground Texas, a Democratic-leaning group aimed at helping register new voters.

One third of Texas' 254 counties do not have Department of Public Safety stations that can provide the cards. That means voters without proper identification have to drive more than 200 miles to get a card, provided they have the proper documentation, such as a birth certificate.

Still, state GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri said few problems popped up with the law during last year's election, a low-turnout affair that included constitutional changes but only drew about 10 percent of the electorate.

"The law has already been tested and performed quite well. I see no reason for concern," Munisteri said.

The 10 percent were devout voters, well aware of the new requirements, said Dana DeBeauvoir, election commissioner in Travis County, which includes Austin.

"This was not a population that needs extra support," she said. "Where we're going to see the problem is in November."

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University is suing Texas and states with similar laws, but it's not clear whether the lawsuits will be decided by November.

"We have shown already that these laws correlate with places that had demographic changes that currently favor Democrats," said Wendy Weiser, director of the Brennan Institute's Democracy program. "When you look at these things together, what's going on is discrimination."




Re: "Always trying to hijack a thread for your warped mind."


And you DON'T EVER toddle off into Bizarro World????


That quote has been securely placed in my brutus archives.

The Big Dog's back

You forgot to change your name to grumpy. AHAHAHAHA. Caught again.


Re: "change,"

Wholly different writing style. It ain't me and never was Bizzaro. :)

The Big Dog's back

Hurry up and post under grumpy. OOOOOOPS!

The Big Dog's back

Or steve p.


Nope again.

Do you need to be let outside to piddle, derpy?

The Big Dog's back

pooh is in meltdown mode.


Re: meltdown mode."

Reads like piddles is seeing conspiracies against him on a newspaper blog.

I bet he forgot his meds this morning or his monthly perscription hasn't been filled yet.

Steve P

piddle, deerdong, off the track coaster, 2008 U.S. Supreme Court Crawford vs Marion County Board of Elections, majority decision written by liberal Justice John Paul Stevens upheld voter ID law. Piddle should take deerdong and off the track coaster for one of his golf cart rides....


Seems you libtards understand abortion rights regarding the constitution but have no trouble abolishing the second amendment.

Your arguments against showing ID to vote are a joke, regardless of party affiliations. This is clearly about letting anyone from illegals to dead people vote.

Your so called “disenfranchised” voters have no trouble providing ID when it comes to receiving assistance. I see the democrats felt it was ok when they failed to uphold the Overseas Voter Empowerment Act? In 2008 less than 20% of 2.5 million military voters successfully voted by absentee ballot.

They have issues getting transportation to the voting booth? They sure can make it to any supermarket on the first of the month. (And no I am not against welfare as a means of help; not something to live off of) Better yet, have ACORN drive them there. When they get to the polls they can be greeted by a thug sporting a Kangol beret, dollar store sunglasses, and carrying a night stick. They can get a sticker “I voted today; with the New Black Panther Party”

Just recently in Texas, a group that supports democrat candidiates; Battleground Texas worker Jennifer Longoria admitting that her group uses voters’ phone numbers — protected under Texas’ privacy laws — to turn out like-minded voters on Election Day.


While small in number, some Amish & Mennonite vote. This for them could prove interesting.

Dr. Information

Nearly all of them drive, requiring an ID. Try again.


maybe it will curtail the two time voters. if not, it should stop the dead ones from voting..


It should. I'm a registered Republican, when I'm dead, I'm sure I will be a democrat, unfortunately.

Simple Enough II


Simple Enough II

I've had concerns about a person voting more than once, voting as someone else, convicted felons voting (who have not had that right restored), Non citizens voting etc. I would like my vote to actually count. I would also like the Churches to stay out of this process by not using the pulpit to tell voters to vote one way or another, want to do that maybe they should lose their tax exemption status.


Re: "tax exemption status."

It of course depends on which political party they are promoting:

Eliminate the 16th Amend. and the "tax status" issue would be greatly reduced.

Remember: Tax laws are used for societal engineering, NOT just for the collection of revenue.


Is "voter fraud" so extensive that we need additional proof of identity? How much will all THIS new paperwork going to cost the taxpayers on a "per illegal vote"? No matter how you slice it...this is voter suppression. (I wonder what the Far Right will come up with next. Oh. Wait! Next will come legislation so anyone, anywhere getting public aid is disqualified from voting. Then, it will be anyone over 60 years old. Why stop there>>>>make it illegal for the gay community to vote. While they are at it....they may as well just appoint themselves into office. Problem is, they will still complain amongst themselves!)


Re: "Next will come legislation so anyone, anywhere getting public aid is disqualified from voting." "over 60 years old" "gay community"

An absurd argument. NO ONE has or is suggesting any of the kind.

"over 60 years old"? Seniors tend to vote conservative don't they?


Yes, I've noticed most of the left seem to be very theatrical.


Surprised that they haven't tied the issue into causing global warming with all that increased ID production. :)


Is "voter fraud" so extensive that we need additional proof of identity? How much will all THIS new paperwork going to cost the taxpayers on a "per illegal vote"? {So much for monetary restraints and NO more legislation!}No matter how you slice it...this is voter suppression. (I wonder what the Far Right will come up with next. Oh. Wait! Next will come legislation so anyone, anywhere getting public aid is disqualified from voting. Then, it will be anyone over 60 years old. Why stop there>>>>make it illegal for the gay community to vote. While they are at it....they may as well just appoint themselves into office. Problem is, they will still complain amongst themselves!) "If you can't win on policy.....CHEAT!


Re: "How much will all THIS new paperwork going to cost the taxpayers"

Don't know, but since the vast majority of people have picture ID of some kind and the BMV issues these ID's anyway... I can't see how it would be much. Perhaps if you are really curious you would look up what the cost of a state issued, picture Id would be. I'm not interested enough to do so. I guess you aren't either since you haven't done so.

I do know when I opened my first bank account I didn't need an ID birth certificate or anything but a SS card. Nowadays I need a picture Id and more. I used to be able to buy cigarettes without an ID, get a post office box, and many things without an ID. Now I need that ID to do those things. Now we need one to vote in some states, and the Supreme Court has said it is Constitutional for states to do so. Welcome to the 21st century. You can try to keep things as they were or you can evolve with the times.


Re: "first bank account,"

Good points.

Reminds me: Refied two yrs ago.

The mortgage co., along with stacks of additional paperwork ordered by the DC bureaucrats gave us a MAJOR financial proctology exam.

Why they even took our IDs and photocopied 'em!

The Big Dog's back

So glad you right wingnuts love regulations.


Libers are butt-hurt over getting ID cards. How typical of the bunch of race card pullers.


SCOTUS also passed Citizens United. (And of course...I'm sure all you Far Righters were in favor of that.) (???)


Go to Job & Family Service, you need a photo ID plus a document proving your current address. Go to a food pantry,
need photo ID plus document proving you live in Erie County. Getting to vote only requires a photo ID. Go figure.

Dr. Information

NO ID NO VOTE. Very simple. Stop the excuses.


Consider the hypocrisy of a government that requires every citizen to prove they are insured but not every citizen needs to prove they are a citizen? That requires a citizen to prove who they are in order to buy Sudafed, but not require proof of who they are to vote. To require proof of who they are in order to purchase booze and liquor, but no proof required to vote. What is wrong with this picture? Or is voting less important than Sudafed or Camels?