Voter ID: Pros, Cons and Costs

NCSL Spring Forum: April 2011

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Running time: 42:34

Delegate Jon Cardin, Maryland

Delegate Kathy Afzali, 
Vishal Agraharkar,  Brennan Center for Justice
Sean Greene,  Pew Center on the States
Representative Dan Flynn, Texas



The Voter ID: Pros, Cons and Costs panel at NCSL’s 2011 Spring Forum was moderated by Delegate Jon Cardin of Maryland. Speakers  included Delegate Kathy Afzali of Maryland, Vishal Agraharkar from the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law,  Sean Greene from the Pew Center on the States, and Representative Dan Flynn of Texas.

Delegate Kathy Afzali, a freshman Republican, sponsored voter ID legislation in 2011, which has failed. Her interest in protecting the voting process was stirred in 2000, when a voter divulged to her that she had voted for then-candidate Bush—twice. Now, she says “people ask me incessantly why the people in Maryland don’t need to show an ID to vote.”

Vishal  Agraharkar is pro bono counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law,  and focuses on voting rights, liberty and national security. His work on voter ID focuses on the the constitutionality of these laws and the impact they may have on voters who do not have a photo ID--over 10 percent of the population, and even higher among the elderly, the poor, and minorities. He is the lead author of the recent Brennan report, “The Cost of Voter ID Laws: What the Courts say.” 

Sean Greene is the research director for the Pew Center on the States’ Elections Initiative. He has recently written an article, Debate Over Photo ID Shifts to Costs, in which he reviewed fiscal notes for voter ID legislation in 14 states. Some states indicate that the cost of implementing voter ID would be “negligible,” and others estimate that it could cost several million dollars. Costs can include providing free IDs, voter education campaigns, and the potential for litigation as costs to be considered.

Representative Dan Flynn co-authored Texas’ voter ID legislation this year. He says he’s motivated by a common sense belief: “Everybody gets to vote once, and you can’t be dead to vote.” His interest in voter ID requirements for Texas stem in part from a sense that citizens lack confidence in the election system, and voter ID legislation is one way to raise that confidence.


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