The High Cost of ‘Free’ Photo Voter Identification Cards

by Richard Sobel
June 2014


Obtaining a “free” voter identification card can typically cost an individual between $75 and $175. When legal fees are factored in, the cost can increase to over $1,000. These are two of the conclusions drawn from an analysis of actual expenses incurred by individuals who needed to obtain identification cards in three states that had recently passed new voting requirements. The High Cost of ‘Free’ Photo Voter Identification Cards, a new report authored by Richard Sobel and released by the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School, notes that, even when the card itself is free, “voter IDs are expensive, often prohibitively so.”

In addition, the Houston Institute report was cited on page 19 of what has been called a “blistering” dissent by Federal Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit’s decision to uphold Wisconsin’s controversial voter identification law. Judge Posner, who originally upheld an Indiana voter identification law that was challenged in court, now says that he regrets his earlier decision, citing evidence contained in the reports of the Houston Institute and other organizations.

Read the press release here.

Read the full decision here.

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