The Importance of Expanding the Voting Rights Act and Ways to Increase the Vote

The right to vote is integral to our political system, one of the defining acts of citizenship, and we should ensure it’s protected. Furthermore, who votes often determines which candidate wins. In 2012, the stakes could hardly be higher. Not including Alabama, where the law is not scheduled to take effect until 2013, the states with strict voter-ID laws comprise 127 electoral votes—almost half the number needed to win.

A report by the Brennan Center for Justice last week offered a devastating look at just how difficult getting ID actually is, and how many people are impacted. Nationwide, 11 percent of eligible voters lack the required ID; among African Americans, that number skyrockets to one in four eligible voters. Hispanics and seniors also disproportionately lack a government-issued photo ID. The Center’s report focuses on two key factors: the cost of acquiring the necessary documents, and the difficulties of getting to an office that issues IDs. Even in states that offer free IDs for voting, most still charge people to obtain the documents necessary to get that ID—and the costs are not insignificant. Birth certificates can run anywhere from $8 to $25. In Mississippi, there’s a special Catch-22: You need a birth certificate to get a government-issued ID, but you need a government-issued ID to get a birth certificate. Meanwhile, 10 million eligible voters live more than 10 miles away from a government office that can issue an ID—and in Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Texas, and Wisconsin, those ID issuing offices are closed on weekends.

 Rest of the article here
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