Decision 2012: Voter ID Laws Could Impact Election
Some Democrats say the race for the White House may not be just about the economy but also about voter suppression. New voter ID laws were a hot topic in Charlotte. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
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Poll workers across the country have a new task: asking for ID.
Thirty-three states now have voter ID laws. Fifteen were passed or strengthened since President Obama took office.
"It's an unfortunate and cynical attempt to undermine the voting rights of students, of elderly, of poor," said Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
The rush of new requirements was a topic of conversation at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
"If you want every American to vote and you think it is wrong to change voting procedures, just to reduce the turnout of younger, poorer, minority and disabled voters, you should support Barack Obama," former President Bill Clinton said in his convention speech.
Advocates and even celebrities say the laws could prevent voters from going to the polls this fall, especially minorities.
"I don't think we can take for granted that the sheer number of Latinos in this country is going to translate to empowerment and showing up at the polls," said actress America Ferrera.
Some think the issue could make or break the election for the president.
Voting rights advocates say voter ID laws disproportionately affect less affluent or minority voters, who they say are more likely to be Democrats. The laws have been enacted in several key swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Republicans say the laws protect voters from fraud. It was an argument they touted at their own convention in Tampa.
"If you have to show a picture ID to buy Sudafed, if you have to show a picture ID to set foot on an airplane, then you should have to show picture ID to protect one of the most valuable, most central, sacred rights blessed with an American: the right to vote," South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said at the convention.
Democrats are taking the laws to court. Last week, a federal court blocked a Texas law. The NAACP is headed to court in Philadelphia next week.
"Pennsylvania is ground zero for voter ID," said Ben Jealous, the president of the NAACP. "We have 800,000 voters who don't have ID."
They're votes that might determine this year's election.