Study finds costs for photo voter ID bill
Posted April 26, 2012 in Press ReleasesFor immediate releaseContact Amy Hanauer, 216.361.9801Download press releaseSee full report
Ohio proposal would cost $5 - $7 million annually, suppress votes
An Ohio bill requiring voters to present photo identification would cost up to $7 million a year while suppressing votes, despite little evidence of voter impersonation, according to a new study from Policy Matters Ohio. House Bill 159, approved by the Ohio House of Representatives last year and under consideration in the Senate, would make voting more difficult for the nearly one million Ohio citizens who currently lack photo ID cards.
In most of the US, citizens can vote by presenting an identifying document, providing a signature, or showing simple proof of address; current Ohio law requires proof of identity, but not a photo ID.
The bill under consideration in Ohio is modeled after legislation recently passed in 17 states and promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate-backed lobbying group that advocates for conservative social and economic proposals. Last week ALEC announced that it was disbanding its task force on voting and safety after its “Stand Your Ground” law became associated with the Florida shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.
The purported target of this bill, voter impersonation, is practically non-existent in Ohio. In fact, voter impersonation is rarer than deaths by lightning strike, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. The proposed Ohio law would take much-needed funds away from things like education and health care in order to solve a problem that essentially does not exist.
“This bill is a non-solution in search of a problem. At a time when we are cutting other essentials, it would spend millions of dollars to suppress votes,” said Amy Hanauer, Policy Matters executive director and a report co-author.
The report, Ohio photo voter ID: A picture worth $7 million a year?, examines the actual costs of a similar law in Indiana and current costs in Ohio to determine a range of possible costs that the state of Ohio would face if it began requiring photo ID cards to vote. Expenses include the cost of photo cards, producing documents needed to obtain a card, voter outreach and lost revenue from those who would no longer buy state IDs because the state now has to provide them for free.
Assuming the lower $8.50 per-ID cost (the current cost of a state ID in Ohio), the total cost would be $6.75 million per year if all voters without IDs were provided one, and $4.85 million per year if only 67 percent of voters (the turnout in the last presidential election) were to request one. Assuming a $13 cost per ID