Voter ID Law Costly to Taxpayers

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is considering legislation that would require every citizen to present photo identification as a condition for voting in primary and general elections.

Many recently enacted voter ID laws have been subject to legal challenges, and states considering such laws are being proactive about including safeguards that eliminate impediments to a citizen's constitutional right to vote. But it doesn't come without cost.

In a recent policy brief, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center applied the experiences of other states with voter ID laws to estimate the cost of implementing such a law in the Commonwealth. In order to meet the requirements set forth in the legislation and avoid potential litigation, PBPC estimates the first-year costs for a voter identification program of approximately $11 million.

Pennsylvania Voter ID Cost Estimate
Free Voter ID Cards $ 1,945,944
Lost Revenue PennDOT $ 1,182,975
Public Education $ 4,200,000
Voter Notification (Households)+ $ 2,719,680
Photo ID Equipment $ 376,540
Election Day Staff* $ 576,840
Total $ 11,002,029
* Election day staff costs incurred by localities
+ Cost rises to $4.6 million for individual notification

The experience of other states suggests that voter ID laws are a burden for voters and an expense that cash-strapped states can ill afford, particularly when the need has not been justified.

Check out our policy brief to get a fuller sense of the cost of a voter ID law in Pennsylvania.

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