The Georgia law expands voting options, such as early voting and ballot drop boxes, beyond the status quo. It’s more allowing in some regards than some Democrat strongholds, such as New York. Its core voter integrity policy that appears to be at the center of the dispute is the requirement for voters to provide identification to cast a ballot not only in person but also as an absentee.
Voter ID laws are common in Republican-leaning states, though they don’t certainly extend to absentee voting. Georgia set up the requirement after the 2020 general election saw a large increase in absentee voting.
Voter ID laws are strongly opposed by Democrats, who call it a form of “voter suppression” due to some Americans not having proper ID. A commonly quoted figure is that 11 percent of voting-age Americans lack ID. The number comes from a 2006 survey of around 1,000 adult citizens, of whom 11 percent said they don’t have a current, non expired photo ID, such as a driver’s license or a military ID.
Still, Georgia law permits the use of expired IDs for voting. Also attaching a utility bill or some government document with a name and address suffices for voting absentee if one lacks another ID, according to Hans von Spakovsky, an election law expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
States generally offer voter IDs to people who lack one for a small fee or even free of charge, like in Georgia. But one normally needs several documents for such a process, such as a utility bill, Social Security card, and birth certificate. The last item in particular can be difficult to obtain for some people since the national birth certificate system was only established in 1946. Preceding that, a lot of people never got one.
In Wisconsin, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for years litigated on behalf of one such person, Ruthelle Frank, who tried to get her birth certificate but was told her name was spelled wrong in the records. It would have cost her some $200 and a bureaucratic system to have the mistake fixed, which she deemed unfair. The state’s voter ID law withstood the challenge, though the ACLU managed to force the state to accept more forms of ID for voting.