Fueled by President Donald Trump, eight states have passed or are implementing stricter voter identification laws this year.
Trump’s claim of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election has drawn more attention to the issue than ever before. Despite experts claiming that it is not a large-scale problem, the president has appointed a federal commission to find and combat voter fraud.
“With President Trump, voter fraud is a crime that’s a high priority,” said the commission’s vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Trump’s stance is being adopted by the states. Republican-controlled legislatures are employing more sophisticated tactics that will likely have an immediate effect in the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential election.
According to NBC News, Texas and Missouri are requiring affidavits — legal documents that voters without the required ID must first sign to cast ballots. Any falsification is a felony. In Georgia, voter registration forms must exactly match other state data, which means a data error or a misplaced hyphen could derail voters. Iowa has mandated that voter rolls be purged of suspected non-citizens.”
In 2017, at least 99 bills to impose stricter voter ID laws have been introduced (or have been carried over from previous sessions) in 31 states—more than double the number last year, according to data compiled by the Brennan Center.
Requiring voters to prove their identity with documents is the most common change, followed by revisions to the voter registration process, such as asking registrants to prove their U.S. citizenship.
Myrna Pérez, who leads voting rights efforts for the Brennan Center, said, “The problem is, when a law prohibits a certain class of people” from voting because they lack “access or ability” to obtain one of the approved forms of identification. “They offer our society very little public benefit, in that they only stop an incredibly rare type of voter fraud.”
In Marshall, Missouri, Mary Williams, 67, the African-American pastor of Salem Evangelical Church, is worried that new voter requirements will disenfranchise people.
“It means that less people in general are voting,” she said. “The whole photo ID thing is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”
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