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The Cost of Voter ID Laws: What the Courts Say

Published: February 15, 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