When Edward and Mary Weidenbener went to vote in Indiana's
primary in May, they didn't realize that state law required them to
bring government photo IDs such as a drivers license or passport.
The husband and wife, both approaching 90 years old, had to use a
temporary ballot that would be verified later, even though they knew
the people working the polling site that day. Unaware that Indiana
law obligated them to follow up with the county election board, the
Weidenbeners ultimately had their votes rejected - news to them
until they were informed recently by an Associated Press reporter.
Edward Weidenbener, a World War II veteran who had voted for Mitt
Romney in the Republican presidential contest, said he was surprised
by the rules and the consequences.
"A lot of people don't have a photo ID. They'll be automatically
disenfranchised," he said.
As more states put in place strict voter ID rules, an AP review
of temporary ballots from Indiana and Georgia, which first adopted
the most stringent standards, found that more than 1,200 such votes
were tossed out during the 2008 general election.
During sparsely attended primaries this year in Georgia, Indiana
and Tennessee, the states implementing the toughest laws, hundreds
more ballots were blocked.
The numbers suggest that the legitimate votes rejected by the
laws are far more numerous than are the cases of fraud that
advocates of the rules say they are trying to prevent. Thousands
more votes could be in jeopardy this November, when more states with
larger populations are looking to have similar rules in place.
More than two dozen states have some form of ID requirement, and
11 of those passed new rules over the last two years largely at the
urging of Republicans who say they want to prevent fraud.
Missouri requires identification to vote, but the ID doesn't have
to include a photo. Illinois generally does not require ID at the
In Missouri, the GOP-controlled Missouri Legislature approved a
ballot measure last year that, if passed by voters, would amend the
state constitution to make it easier for lawmakers to issue tougher
identification requirements for voters. But in March, a Cole County
Circuit Court judge sent the proposed amendment back to the
Legislature for violating truth in advertising requirements on
ballot language. The ballot summary for the measure had referred to
the proposal as the Voter Protection Act, but the bill itself makes
no mention of such a phrase nor even includes the word "protection."
In Illinois, a Republican legislative proposal to make voters
show a photo ID was shot down earlier this year by Democrats.
Democrats and voting rights groups fear that ID laws could
suppress votes among people who may not typically have a drivers
license, and disproportionately affect the elderly, poor and
minorities. While the number of votes is a small percentage of the
overall total, they have the potential to sway a close election. The
2000 presidential race was decided by a 537-vote margin in Florida.
A Republican leader in Pennsylvania said recently that the
state's new ID law would allow Romney to win the state over
President Barack Obama.
Supporters of the laws cite anecdotal cases of fraud as a reason
that states need to do more to secure elections, but fraud appears
to be rare. As part of its effort to build support for voter ID
laws, the Republican National Lawyers Association last year
published a report that identified some 400 election fraud
prosecutions over a decade across the entire country. …