DURING the 2012 presidential election I accompanied some canvassers going door to door in Philadelphia. Their aim was to remind people in this pivotal swing state to vote and to vote Democrat. Again and again, the big concern among the folks opening their doors was the state's new and very strict voter-ID law, which required voters to provide a government-issued picture ID. The law would have made it impossible for hundreds of thousands -- some say 750,000 -- of people to vote, most of them likely to vote Democratic. Not even government-issued welfare cards and military identification cards were acceptable. Plenty of older Philadelphians, many of them black, do not even have a birth certificate. www.economist.com
Here are the groups most likely to be impacted:
The Poor: More than 1 million voters who fall below the poverty line live more than 10 miles away from their nearest identification-issuing office, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice. The cost of birth certificates, often required to obtain identification, and the IDs themselves can be a burden; having to travel, and perhaps miss work, is another hurdle to getting an ID. And according to Census data compiled by the National Women's Law Center, women are more likely to live in poverty than men. The poverty rate among adult women over 18 was 14.6 percent in 2011, compared with 10.9 percent of men.
Seniors: The AARP says as many as one in five seniors lacks a current government-issued photo identification. In 2006, as many as 8 million people over the age of 65 didn't have an identification, and the older they get, the less likely they are to have a driver's license. And women live longer than men: The life expectancy at birth for men in the United States is 76.2 years, while women can expect to live for 81.2 years. The Census Bureau estimated the 65-and-over population at 24.3 million women and just 18.8 million men.
The Married, and the Divorced: About 90 percent of women change their names when they get married, and many change their names back if they get divorced. The rate of women who keep their maiden names may actually be falling, according to Harvard economist Claudia Goldin. A Brennan Center survey found just 48 percent of voting-age women have easy access to their birth certificates, and 66 percent of those women have access to proof of citizenship with their current legal names.
Students: Students who attend out-of-state schools often don't bother to get a driver's license in their new state, while students who stick closer to home still have to either sign up for an absentee ballot or head home to vote in person. The Census Bureau showed women are more likely to be enrolled in college -- there are 10.9 female students in American colleges, compared with 8.8 million men.
All Voters: Women tend to vote more than men, period. Women have made up a larger share of the electorate than men in recent years -- 53 percent to 47 percent in 2012, for example -- across racial and ethnic lines. So, if voter identification laws are going to erect hurdles for a broad range of those casting ballots, women as a whole are going to be impacted more. www.washingtonpost.com