Jan 1, 2012
About 21 million American adults don’t have a government-issued photo identification card, or can’t get access to one. They include:
- More than 6 million senior citizens. In Georgia, for example, the AARP says 36 percent of people over age 75 don’t have photo ID.
- About 25 percent of voting-age African-American citizens, or 5.5 million people.
- About 15 percent of lower-income citizens. Citizens earning less than $35,000 are twice as likely to lack valid ID as people earning more than $35,000.
- About 18 percent of young voters.
College students in a growing number of states are finding that their voting rights are being restricted. In Tennessee, South Carolina and Texas, new laws bar students from voting with university-issued ID. A similar law in Wisconsin has schools scrambling to help students by issuing new voter ID-compliant student identification. Other states are also considering new ID requirements and other restrictions on students’ voting rights.
Depending on the state, fees can range from a few dollars to more than $40 for a basic photo ID. But getting those IDs — even in a few states that are providing them for free — requires a birth certificate. If yours isn’t handy, you’ll have to track down and purchase a copy from the state where you were born, a process that can be costly, burdensome and nearly impossible for some.