News

7/23/2014

[Oklahoma's Voter ID] law requires voters to produce a government-issued form of identification to prove their identity before they are allowed to vote. A document used for proof of identity must include your name, which must match the name on voter registration record, a photograph and an expiration date that is later than the date of the election.
According to Cindy Osborn Sequoyah County election board secretary, voters whose full legal name is on their proof of identity and on their voter registration record should have no problem at the polls. However, voters whose names have changed due to marriage or divorce and voters who may have registered under a nickname or variation of their full legal name, may encounter difficulties.
“Voters who don’t have proof of identity, or whose name on the voter registration record does not match the name on their proof of identity, will have to vote by provisional ballot,” Osborn said. ...

A voter wanting to change their name on their voter registration record must fill out and mail a new Oklahoma Voter Registration Application form. The form may be picked up at all tag agencies, most libraries and post offices in Oklahoma. The application must be received at least 25 days before an election for the change to be in effect for the election.

7/23/2014

According to Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, voters who don't have a Michigan driver's license or identification card can show the following forms of photo ID, as long as they are current:

* Driver's license or personal identification card issued by another state

* Federal or state government-issued photo identification

* U.S. passport

* Military identification card with photo

* Student identification with photo from a high school or an accredited institution of higher education, such as a college or university

* Tribal identification card with photo

"Anyone who does not have an acceptable form of photo ID or failed to bring it with them can still vote by signing a brief affidavit stating that they're not in possession of photo ID," Johnson said. "Their ballot will be included with all others and counted on Election Day."

7/21/2014

God has blessed Anna Marie Trapani. She is 91, her heart is strong and her wits are good. But her hearing is shot, she’s unsteady on her feet and she also suffers from essential tremor. A couple of years ago, she fell and snapped her wrist. The doctors told her she was too old for surgery.

She’s the widow of two World War II veterans — Frank Trapani fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was a prisoner of war; Louis Cifarelli served in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific. Today, Trapani lives at Smith Mountain Lake with her son and daughter-in-law, Frank and Audrey Cifarelli.

Years ago, back when she lived in New York, Trapani used to be an elections official. She worked at the polls when she lived in Florida too. “And I’ve always voted. Whenever there was an election, I voted.” She considers it a civic duty.

But her Virginia driver’s license is expired, and her passport is too. So recently she went through a significant hassle to get a valid photo ID, which is required of all voters under a new state election law that took effect July 1.

It’s an issue many Virginia seniors may soon be facing. According to the Virginia Department of Elections, Trapani is one of 43,887 registered Virginia voters who are 90 or older. Besides them, there are 191,291 voters aged 80 to 89.

The Virginia General Assembly enacted the law in 2013 but delayed its effective date until this July 1. It requires every Virginia voter to have a “valid photo ID” in order to cast a ballot at the polls. Exactly what that means is now being debated within the State Board of Elections.

7/21/2014

Groundbreaking work by two USC researchers has shown that lawmakers who support voter ID laws are more likely to show racial bias against Latino constituents. ...

In the two weeks leading to the Nov. 4, 2012 general election, they sent emails to 1,871 state legislators in 14 states with the largest Latino populations in the U.S. ...

“I was shocked by the magnitude of the bias,” [doctoral candidate Matthew] Mendez said. “I went in thinking we might find a gap of some kind, but I wasn’t prepared for an almost 20 percentage-point gap among those who support voter ID laws based on the name of the ethnicity of the constituent.” ...

[Christian] Grose [associate professor of political science] and Mendez noted that while the majority of legislators who support voter ID are Republican, the majority of Republicans in the study sample did not support voter ID.

“The people who are not responding to Latinos and who favor voter ID are a numerical minority in the sample in general, and also a minority within the Republican party, and so the findings of our study are not driven by partisanship,” Grose said.

7/20/2014

The voter ID law specifically contemplates changes related to a voter's "hair color, glasses, facial hair, cosmetics, weight, age and injury." Changes in gender aren’t mentioned. The transgender question was brought up at a public hearing on the voter ID legislation, and Kobach's office issued a response to it and other queries on Jan. 24, 2012.

"County elections officers have been informed about the existence of transgendered individuals and have been advised to educate their workers about transgendered individuals," the response states. "K.A.R. 7-42-6 sufficiently allows for poll workers to take 'other physical factors,' such as a sex change, into account when assessing a photographic identification document."

But that reassurance didn’t match the on-the-ground experience of Stephanie Mott, a Topekan who leads the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project.

Mott said the first time she voted under the new ID requirements, she was still registered as Steven Mott, and her ID still listed her as Steven Mott, so she gave that name, knowing that all the poll worker was instructed to match was name and appearance.

“The poll worker said ‘Name?’ and I said ‘Mott,’ “ Mott said. “She said ‘First name?’ and I said ‘Steven.’ Then she said ‘You’re not Steven,’ out loud to everybody within earshot. Then I had to explain to her I was transgender. Then I had to explain to her what that was.” ...

Hanson [, a transgender Kansan,] said the state's bureaucracy has made it more difficult to update her identification. She said the local Division of Motor Vehicles turned her away when she tried to get a driver's license that listed her as a woman, telling her she needed to get her birth certificate changed.

She made a request for such a change to the Kansas Department for Health and Environment, but in response received only a short email from a agency attorney that such an amendment based on sex change was impossible because of a 2002 Kansas Supreme Court decision regarding the estate of Marshall G. Gardiner, whose potential heirs challenged his marriage to a transgender woman under the state's same-sex marriage ban.

7/18/2014

Kansas law changed Jan. 1, 2013, requiring any person registering to vote for the first time, or voter previously canceled, to provide proof of citizenship. Statewide there are more than 19,000 incomplete registrations.

Those prospective voters still have time to finalize registrations prior to an Aug. 5 primary election. If they do not provide citizenship documents by the end of Aug. 4, they will not be able to vote in the primary. ...

Documents that are acceptable as evidence of United States citizenship for voter registration purposes:

• Birth certificate that verifies United States citizenship • United States passport or pertinent pages of the applicant's valid or expired United States passport identifying the applicant and the applicant's passport number • United States naturalization documents or the number of the certificate of naturalization • Other documents or methods of proof of United States citizenship issued by the federal government pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 • Bureau of Indian Affairs card number, tribal treaty card number or tribal enrollment number • Consular report of birth abroad of a citizen of the United States • Certificate of citizenship issued by the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services • Certification of report of birth issued by the United States Department of State • American Indian card, with KIC classification, issued by the United States Department of Homeland Security (Note: This document applies only to a small Texas band of the Kickapoo tribe with slightly more than 50 members.) • Final adoption decree showing the applicant's name and United States birthplace • United States military record of service showing applicant's place of birth in the United States • Extract from a United States hospital record of birth created at the time of the applicant's birth indicating the applicant's place of birth in the United States • Only if the agency indicates on the applicant's driver's license or nondriver's identification card that the person has provided satisfactory proof of United States citizenship, then a driver's license or nondriver's identification card issued by the Kansas Division of Vehicles or the equivalent governmental agency of another state within the United States

7/17/2014

According to experts, the strictest voter ID laws are when voters are required to present a photo ID when casting a ballot, and if they don't, are required to take additional steps before their vote can be counted. If a voter can’t present an ID, he or she is issued a provisional ballot and must submit an ID within a certain amount of time (usually 2 to 6 days). The Census reports that in these states, black voter rates in the 2012 elections were just as high if not higher than white voter rates....

The impact of stricter voter ID laws is difficult to gauge because there are many factors determining voter turnout overall. It may be easy to tally the people who are turned away at the polls, but tracking why someone didn’t show up at the polls is another question, said Alex Keyssar, a political scientist at Harvard University. ...

The newness of the legislation makes the impact of the voter ID laws that much more difficult to determine. In fact, many of the laws weren’t even in place in the 2012 elections. (Virginia's law goes into effect in 2014, Arkansas' went into effect in 2013 and Texas' went into effect in 2013.)

"One election doesn’t make a pattern," said John Hansen, a political scientist at the University of Chicago. "We have a distance to go before we can measure the impact of these laws."

So what accounted for the high turnout of black voters in 2012? Barack Obama, Hansen and Keyssar said. In this year’s midterm elections and in 2016’s presidential race, when Obama’s name won’t appear on the ballot and the laws are in place, the rates may tell a different story.

And the increased black voter rates in 2012 could also be interpreted as an unintended consequence or a "backlash effect," according to Erin O’Brien. a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The stricter voter ID laws may have actually motivated the minorities the laws were trying to suppress. That motivation, unlike its effects, is backed by pretty strong evidence.

7/16/2014

Starting in 2016, students in North Carolina will have to present a photo ID to vote. Among the forms of acceptable identification are driver’s licenses, passports and military IDs. College IDs, however, are not accepted. The new law has troubled many students in the college community, and now seven students are suing.

The students claim the photo ID requirement and measures such as the elimination of out-of-precinct voting are discriminatory against young people, joining organizations such as the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Justice Department in a legal battle against the state. ...

Jared Sossin, a junior studying political science and psychology at Wake Forest University, says his Wake Forest student ID is the only form of identification that proves his residence in North Carolina.

“By not allowing us to use our college IDs, it hampers our ability to vote,” Sossin says. “However, rather than explaining why I should be able to use my college ID, I would like North Carolina to explain to me why I can’t use my college ID.”

Sossin adds that the law puts the burden of proof on the voters to demonstrate why they should be able to vote.

“The nature of our civil liberties are not so each individual or a group must explain why they are worthy of those rights, but those trying to take away those rights must explain why they want to do so,” Sossin says. “This is the American way.” ...

“There will be students who try to same day register and will be turned away; there will be students who don’t come prepared with IDs in 2016 and they will be turned away; and more than anything I think people have heard so much about these laws they are now scared of the process of voting,” [Jocelyn Hunt, a senior and American political science major at Appalachian State University] says.

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