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Photo ID

Photo ID

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Published by Kenric Ward

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Published by: Kenric Ward on Feb 14, 2013
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Te Commonwealth Institute/
 January 2013
Picture This
By Laura Goren, Sara Okos and Michael J. Cassidy 
SB 1256 imposes burdensome new 
 voter identication requirements,could cost Virginia millions of dollarsto implement, and may ensnare Virginia in costly litigation. Ascurrently drafted, this legislation wouldrequire photo proof of identicationat the polling place.In order to pass constitutional muster,a photo identication requirementmust be accompanied by a numberof actions on the part of the statein order to minimize the impact onpotential voters. This includes (1) the provision of freephoto IDs to voters who do not havea valid photo ID, including making theprocess of getting an ID accessibleand no-cost, and (2) undertaking a public education and outreachcampaign to inform voters of the new requirements.In addition to these constitutionalrequirements, Virginia would face new costs due to the need to (1) providetraining to local election ofcials toensure proper implementation of the new provisions and (2) processadditional provisional ballots.Based on estimates from other states,implementation of SB1256 could costbetween $7.3 million and $21.8 million.
Costs and Legal Concerns
SB1256 states that the Board of Elections shall “Provide to eachgeneral registrar…voter registrationcards containing the voter’sphotograph and signature for those voters who do not have one of theforms of identication specied”and that “The Department of Motor Vehicles shall assist the State Boardin providing voter registration cardscontaining the voter’s photograph andsignature.” Although SB1256 does not specify  who would bear the costs of these new IDs, in order to pass constitutionalmuster the IDs must be provided freeof charge to everyone without anacceptable ID
.Furthermore, in
Weinschenk v. Missouri 
the Missouri Supreme Court foundthat the costs of obtaining thesecondary documents necessary for providing identity (e.g., birthcerticates), and therefore obtaining aphoto ID to vote, are also equivalentto a poll tax unless the state (a)exempts voters from the requirementof presenting the underlying documentation or (b) covers thecost of obtaining the underlying documentation to prove identity.Nationally, 11 percent of adult U.S.citizens lack a government-issuedphoto identication. Another 10percent of adult citizens with a photoID do not have both their currentaddress and current legal name ontheir identication (the elderly and
SB1256 requiring photo ID brings big costs and big headaches
The High Cost of Voter Photo ID
Lower BoundEstimateUpper BoundEstimateProvision of free IDs6,737,300$ 20,211,899$Voter Education$250,000$698,275Staff Training$21,233$560,684 Administration$286,120$286,120
Source: TCI analysis of fiscal impact statements from VA,NC, MD, MN, MS, and WI.
SB 1256 imposesburdensome new voteridentifcation requirements,could cost Virginia millionso dollars.
Te Commonwealth Institute/
 January 2013
 African-Americans have lower ratesof having photo IDs, while married women have lower rates of having their current legal name on their photoID). While SB1256 does not disqualify aperson from voting who has a non-matching address, it would disqualify persons with non-matching names. Assuming half of the 10 percentof adult citizens without both thecurrent address and current namehave a non-matching name, a totalof 16 percent of adult U.S. citizenseither lack a government-issued photoidentication or have one with anon-matching name. With 5,435,644registered voters in Virginia as of December 2012, 869,703 currently registered Virginia voters would beforced to obtain a proper photoidentication in order to vote. According to the Virginia DMV,processing a driver’s license renewalat a customer service center costs$22.40
. Although not identical to theprocess for applying for a non-driverphoto identication card, we wouldexpect the costs for drivers’ licenserenewal processing to be less thanor, at most, equal to the costs forproducing a voter identication card with a photograph and signature. Therefore, if we assume an in-personidentication transaction cost of $22.40 per person and approximately 869,000 registered Virginia voters without proper photo identication,then providing free IDs to those Virginians without a proper photoidentication document would cost Virginia about $19,465,600. This $19 million potential cost isbefore considering the costs to Virginia of paying for potential voters to obtain copies of theunderlying documents necessary toprove identity and obtain the photoID, assuming doing so would berequired to obtain the new photo id voter registration cards. Nationally,about 7 percent of U.S. citizensdo not have ready access to a U.S.passport, naturalization papers, orbirth certicates, with low-incomeindividuals less likely to have accessto one of the documents. Applying those rates to the estimated 869,703registered Virginians without properphoto identication, approximately 60,879 registered Virginia voters would be entitled to free copies of thedocuments necessary to prove theiridentity for voting. Obtaining a copy of a Virginia birth certicate costs$12. Assuming all of the voters wereborn in Virginia, providing one formof vital record per affected individual without proper underlying proof of identity would cost Virginia a further$730,551. Furthermore, 34 percent of  voting-age women in the United States who have some form of underlying documentation of citizenship do nothave ready access to a document withtheir current legal name. If these women need to be provided with acopy of their marriage certicate inorder to clear whatever hurdle Virginiaerects for obtaining a photo voterregistration card, that cost must also beborne by the state.Based on these assumptions, the costof providing free photo identicationsand free access to copies of theunderlying documents would be about$20.2 million. Even if we assume thatthe rate of Virginia voters withoutproper identication is a third of theseestimates (a Minnesota match of voterregistration and motor vehicle recordsfound seven percent of registered voters in Minnesota did not have a valid identication and a Missourianalysis found six percent of registered voters had no photo identication onle with the state), the cost to Virginiaof making photo identicationavailable to voters would still be $6.7million.
Other Costs
 The other major costs Virginia wouldface related to SB1256 include publiceducation/outreach, training for localelection ofcials, and the processing of additional provisional ballots.Using Virginia’s 2012 experience, where the governor and General Assembly made signicant changes to voter ID requirements in the state, as well as scal impact statements fromneighboring states on this issue, andthe actual costs from states that haveimplemented photo identicationrequirements, it is possible to estimatethe costs Virginia could face.
Voter Education/Outreach
Based on Virginia’s experience withthe 2012 voter ID changes, theDepartment of Planning and Budgethas estimated that SB719—a moreminor change to Virginia’s voteridentication requirements than isproposed in SB1256—would requirethe state to spend between $250,000and $500,000 on voter education andoutreach.In Maryland
and North Carolina
,the scal impact statements forproposed photo identication rulesestimated education/outreach costs of $500,000 and $600,000, respectively. Adjusted for the relative size of thestates’ populations, the proportionatecosts in Virginia would be $698,275and $501,030, respectively. With Virginia, like Maryland, having asignicant share of its population inthe expensive Washington, DC mediamarket, it is likely that Virginia’s costs would be at the higher end of theseranges.

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