A new report suggests that one in 10 eligible voters will be impacted by voter ID laws, and that these laws will disproportionately affect minorities.
According to the non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, 11% of eligible voters don't have the government-issued photo IDs mandated by a slew of new laws passed by Republican-dominated states over the last year.
The percentage goes even higher for seniors, students, minorities, the disabled, and low-income voters.
In the past, the federal courts have ruled that if states pass strict voter ID laws, it must be a free-of-charge process so that the laws don't effectively create an unconstitutional poll tax, Rachel Maddow explained on her show Wednesday.
But, according to the Brennan Center's new report, which examined 10 states with the strictest laws, "this promise of free voter ID is a mirage. In the real world, poor voters find shuttered offices, long drives without cars and with spotty or no bus service, and sometimes prohibitive costs."
For example, 1.2 million eligible black voters and 500,000 eligible Hispanic voters live more than 10 miles from the nearest office that issues the IDs. So, though the photo ID itself may be free, the costs of getting to the office—or, for that matter, getting a hold of a birth certificate or other documentation required to get the ID—could run between $8-$25.
"Despite the promise, and even the constitutional requirement of making this ID available to everybody, in reality it is going to be very hard to get to the place where you get the ID, to get the documents, for a lot of our fellow citizens," Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center, said on The Rachel Maddow Show. "That really runs counter to the basic premise of American democracy."
Waldman explained that there may be some hope once the courts start taking a look at these laws, but "a lot of these laws are so new that we don't know how the courts are going to rule on that kind of question."
"In some places it's going to be kind of hand-to-hand combat in the courts, all the way up until election day," Waldman continued. "Because you've got local officials purging people from the rolls, you have people challenging voters at the polling place, and unfortunately we're going to see this kind of thing play out all across the country."