The cornerstone of the Declaration of Independence — that all men are created equal — is being undermined by a rash of restrictive laws that force US citizens to endure long journeys, eccentric opening hours and hidden costs before they can vote, a new study finds.
The research, by the Brennan Center for Justice within New York University, finds that almost 500,000 eligible voters are being required to travel more than 10 miles to a government office — even though they have no car. More than 1 million eligible voters below the federal poverty line are now expected to pay costs of up to $25 before they can vote.
The report looks at the impact of voter ID laws that have been introduced since 2011 in 10 states that require US citizens to obtain a government-issued photo identification card before they can cast their ballot.
So what's the big deal about getting a government ID?
One in 10 eligible voters lack the government-issued photo ID cards they now need within the 10 states before they can cast their ballot. Yet the Brennan Center found that of those, more than 10 million people live more than 10 miles away from the nearest public office where they can obtain such cards.
They might make the journey, only to find the office closed. Some offices maintain hours that can only be described as bizarre. The office in Sauk City, Wisconsin opens only on the fifth Wednesday of any month — a quirk of the calendar that happens only four times this year, in February, May, August and October.
By federal law, the photo ID cards have to be provided free. Yet in order to persuade the authorities to issue a card, citizens often have to produce a birth certificate that can cost up to $25, or, in the case of married women whose birth certificate contains a maiden name, a marriage license at up to $20.
Voter fraud? It's virtually unheard of, for very practical reasons. It would be hard, probably impossible, to send an effective contingent to the polls to claim false IDs to cast ballots without being detected.
Republicans don't want minorities and poor people voting. Because people aren't stupid. And those groups know Republican policies are bad for them.