This column, here, is an articulate explanation of a point of view that many academics have about voter identification laws; the consensus, especially among more left leaning intellectuals, is that voter ID laws are merely a tool Republicans use to depress Democratic turnout.
The photo-ID voter identification requirements are quite new. For the 2010 election cycle, only two states had photo-ID laws. Now eight states have them. For nonpartisan details of current law, check out the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) article on the subject, here.
These laws have not been enacted without controversy. Nevertheless, the US Supreme Court decided in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (2008) that an Indiana photo-ID law could stand, opening the door for other states to implement similar laws. (NY Times article: here).
The challenge, of course, is that many people seem to follow the argument - if you need an ID to do just about anything else in America, why not to vote? Etc. Additionally, as the Supreme Court found, the burden of acquiring an ID is relatively light.
Of course, neither of those comments invalidates the traditional liberal argument: (1) whatever the burden, the people most likely to be discouraged by it are Democratic voters. (2) That is likely the real intent of the law.
In any case, it is an interesting issue, no matter which side you favor. While it has not been much of a public controversy during the Republican primary season, this may turn up as a bigger deal during the general election.
--- Stag Staff