According to a Brennan Center for Justice study, 11 percent of voters do not have a government issued photo ID. This percent increases for senior citizens, low-income Americans, people of color, and the disabled. Close to a dozen states across the country enacted voter ID laws in 2011 that have to potential to disenfranchise a large group of voters.
Voter ID laws have long been seen as efforts to suppress participating in elections. Their supporters claim the laws are necessary and prevent voter fraud. But, studies have shown that instances of voter fraud – that is, a voter voting twice or an ineligible person voting – are miniscule. What voter ID laws accomplish, however, is discouraging certain groups from exercising their right to vote.
According to “From Registration to Recounts Revisited,” a Joyce-funded report from the The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, Wisconsin enacted voter ID requirements as an effort to eliminate voter fraud, even though potentially fraudulent votes accounted for less than .00007 percent of all ballots cast in Wisconsin during the 2008 presidential election. Each year, according to the Brennan Center, as many as 5 million U.S. citizens could be denied the right to vote because of rules like those passed in Wisconsin.
As the Wisconsin State Supreme Court prepares to make a final decision on the voter ID laws, Joyce grantee The Wisconsin League of Women Voters Education Fund is committed to working toward less restrictive voting laws while educating Wisconsin residents that the laws are in effect.
The Joyce Foundation’s Money and Politics Program supports grantees who work to protect the voting rights of citizens and to guarantee that elections are carried out efficiently, honestly, and in ways that ensure that all citizens have the right and the opportunity to vote.