These 6 states still have voter ID disputes with time running out before election day

Objectively speaking, rates of gun violence and sexual assault are relatively high in the U.S. The national rate of voting fraud, meanwhile, is close to zero, according to the New York University Brennan Center for Justice. But I’m sure you can guess which of these issues Republican politicians have devoted their efforts to, namely through pushing stringent, discriminatory voter ID laws in states just two months ahead of the election.

It’s hardly a mystery why the GOP is so dedicated to this particular cause. Not only do strict voter ID laws lower the overall voter turnout, which is often correlated with Republican victories, but African-American, Hispanic, and poor Americans are disproportionately far less likely to own a driver’s license, military ID, passport, or weapons permit than other groups and these demographics tend to vote for Democrats. Considering the estimates of most credible pollsters, Donald Trump frankly needs all the help he can get, and after all he’s said and done, it’s pretty obvious he isn’t going to get that help from minority voters.

With the election two months away, in spite of nearly nonexistent rates of voter fraud, a handful of states remain in conflict over discriminatory tactics in their voting laws.


Alabama passed a law requiring photo identification to cast a vote in 2011, and it has been in effect since the June 2014 primary elections as a means to protect against voter fraud, which, once again, happens less frequently than UFO sightings (yes, really.) A lawsuit challenging the law is set for trial next year, after Alabama residents barred from voting in the March presidential primary received representation from a lawyer.

U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler of Tuscaloosa refused to suspend the law prior to Alabama’s March 1 primary, and instead scheduled the case for trial in September 2017, at which point it will be far too late for the general election. Qualifying forms of ID this election will include driver’s licenses, in-state college IDs, military IDs, and the employee IDs of government workers.

However, in a sizable victory last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against Alabama’s requirement for proof of U.S. citizenship.


New Hampshire Voters Head To The Polls For State's
CREDIT: Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images

Notorious for being a swing state, Ohio will be a fierce battleground this election, and unfortunately, many voters could be barred from shaping their state’s electoral outcome. Last month, Ohio’s lower courts upheld a law cutting days in which citizens could register to vote and submit early ballots. Additionally, the Ohio Democratic party and other voting rights advocates are fighting state voter ID laws, which they point out disproportionately challenge minority and homeless voters. Ohio has also been accused of illegally removing eligible voters if they did not vote in recent elections. These lawsuits have largely gone rejected by Ohio courts over the summer.


New Yorkers Head To The Polls To Vote In The State's Primary
CREDIT: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday blocked Georgia’s requirement for potential voters to offer proof of citizenship. The decision also struck down similar laws in Kansas, where at least 20,000 potential Kansas voters were denied the opportunity to cast a ballot since the law took effect in 2013. Voters will now just have to swear that they are citizens, but considering the determination of the state to bar minorities in the first place, it’s entirely likely voter suppression will still be attempted at booths. Additionally, the Court of Appeals did not address the state’s requirement for a driver’s license, government employee ID, passport, or military ID.

North Carolina

Through laws passed in 2013, North Carolina eliminated same-day voter registration, cut a full week of early voting, barred voters from casting ballots outside their home precincts, and ended a program to pre-register high school students who would turn 18 by Election Day. The state also implemented a law excluding student IDs in a pointed jab at young voters. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals thankfully restored the state’s 17 days of early voting, but Think Progress reports certain counties are still bypassing the court’s decision.


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected a law in August that would have allowed voters without the required voter ID to sign an affidavit attesting to their identity to cast a ballot when the state promised its Division of Motor Vehicles would “mail automatically a free photo ID to anyone who comes to DMV one time and initiates the free ID process.” Still, this discriminates against voters without access to transportation to go to the DMV or who have significant time constraints, and it is unclear how the state intends to inform all potential voters of this option. Some responded to the August ruling with hope that the Supreme Court would intervene on behalf of voters, but time is running out.


Even after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in July that Texas’ stringent voter ID laws were discriminatory and required judicial oversight of election rules going forward, there is new evidence that state voting officials are not complying. The Department of Justice on Wednesday accused Texas officials of “misleading voters and poll workers regarding what kind of ID is required to cast a ballot,” Houston Public Media reported. While deeply unfortunate, this is hardly surprising given the state’s long history of discriminatory voting tactics.

Most of these states will probably still have these issues when it comes time to vote in November. Maybe they’ll be resolved by 202o.