The facts on requiring an ID to vote
To the editor:
I would like to respond to the letter to the editor by Rose Rollins (“Requiring an ID to vote is not voter suppression,” April 7) and column by Sun Chronicle columnist Donna Perry (“Voter ID is not voter suppression,” April 8).
I believe that voter ID laws are designed to reduce voter participation by setting an extremely high burden on the poorest, most vulnerable citizens in our country.
Approximately 7% of U.S. citizens do not have access to the underlying documents that are required to get a state ID, driver’s license, or other government issued ID. This represents almost 23 million citizens per 2019 population estimates who are not eligible to vote due to voter ID laws.
Obtaining a government-issued ID costs money. A birth certificate costs between $7 and $25, and a state ID (driver’s license or photo ID card) costs between $20 and $60, depending upon the state. This doesn’t include legal fees which may be needed to secure the underlying documentation.
Not everyone has their own car, so there is the hurdle of asking for help or paying for transportation to and from the offices to receive documents and government ID. In many parts of the country, the closest office to get a government ID is well over 100 miles away.
Finally, one must be able to take time out from work to be at the designated offices when they are open. The nationwide average for the cost of documents, travel, and lost wages is between $75 and $150.
It would be hard for anyone to deny that $75 to $150 is a huge cost to citizens who are near or below the poverty line. Does someone choose to buy groceries for their family or acquire a government issued ID to vote?
In 1964, the 24th Amendment outlawed the poll tax of $1.50. The Supreme Court held that the poll tax discriminated on the basis of wealth in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. When adjusted for inflation, the $1.50 poll tax would be $12.70 in today’s dollars.
Today’s costs of obtaining a government ID are obviously many times higher than the poll tax. It logically follows that the high cost to gain a government issued IDs to comply with voter ID laws will prevent millions of low-income voters from engaging in our elections process. Just as the poll tax did many decades ago. That seems like voter suppression to me.