The Cost of Voter ID Laws: What the Courts Say

February 17, 2011

Based on a comprehensive review of every court case in which a photo ID law has been challenged, this paper examines the costs states must incur if they decide to implement photo ID requirements for voters.

In a difficult fiscal environment, citizens may reasonably question whether there are more pressing needs on which to spend their tax dollars than photo ID rules, and state legislators should seriously consider whether photo ID laws are worth their considerable costs. In doing so, legislators should consider the myriad other measures already in place in their states to guard against voter fraud—which have been very effective at deterring such fraud —as well as less expensive measures to increase the security of elections, including voter ID laws that allow voters who do not have photo ID to demonstrate their identities at the polls by other means. Legislators who still wish to pursue photo ID requirements for voting must ensure that the laws provide for free photo IDs, ensure that IDs are reasonably accessible to all eligible voters, and include sufficient voter education and outreach programs and poll worker training.

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The Costs of Voter ID Laws