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Blacks Targeted By Voter ID Laws

Many states are starting to pass strict voter identification laws, which primarily affect Black voters and young voters. So far, 33 states have made it mandatory for voters to have either a driver’s license or a state-issued identification card in order to cast a ballot. According to a study by the General Accounting Office (GAO), Blacks are more likely not to have such forms of ID than whites and thus not able to exercise their constitutional right. Two states that have recently passed these kinds of laws are Kansas, where Black voter turnout dropped by 3.7% and Tennessee, where Black voter turnout dropped by 1.5 percent. This study was done at the request of the following state senators: Bernie Sanders, Patrick Leahy, Dick Durbin, Bill Nelson, and Chuck Schumer; after parts of the Voting Rights Act was eliminated by the US Supreme Court.

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The GAO report found that between 5% and 20% of voters lacked the proper forms of identification in order to receive a voter ballot. The push for stringent voter identification has come at the behest of the Republican Party to address possible voter fraud. But the Democratic Party contends the push is simply to suppress Black voter and young voter turnout because these groups tend to vote for Democrats. Other ways in which voters are being suppressed is with the reduction of early voting, down from 17 days to 10 days and shortened voting hours in states such as North Carolina and Ohio. In New Jersey, the governor has vetoed legislation that would automatically register you to vote, once a person applies for a driver’s license or renew their driver’s license.

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The General Accounting Office analysis found that in states with the new voter identification laws, the cost of getting a state-issued ID ranged between $14.50 and $58.50, which made the cost of obtaining a government ID cost-prohibitive to some Black voters and young voters. According to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, in 2013 approximately 107,000 Black voters in the state had lacked the proper identification required to cast a ballot at election time.



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