WBEZ brings you fact-based news and information. Sign up for our newsletters to stay up to date on the stories that matter.The state of Indiana will soon require much more documentation to obtain a driver’s license or a state identification. The state says the measures are aimed at preventing identity theft, which victimizes millions of Americans each year. However, some are still fighting the new rules. They fear it will hamper a person’s ability to cast a ballot.
If you want to renew your driver’s license in Indiana today, all you basically have to do is show your current license and you’re in.
Come January 1st, anybody wanting to renew or get a new driver’s license in Indiana or obtain a photo ID will need to show a lot more.
ROSEBROUGH: For identity, the most common would be a birth certificate or passport. Then for social security number, you need our social security card or like a W2 forum that will have your social security number on it.
That’s Indiana BMV spokesman Dennis Rosebrough. He says the new measures are to prevent someone from pretending to be someone else.
ROSEBROUGH: If you know anybody who’s ever experienced identity theft. That is really, really painful experience to go through.
But this need for extra documentation concerns Karen Celestino-Horseman, an attorney representing the League of Women Voters of Indiana.
Indiana law says a person must show a photo ID when voting at a precinct. But Celestino-Horseman says some people may not have the necessary documents required to obtain a photo ID so they can vote.
CELESTINO-HORSEMAN: It’s really going to, I believe, seriously impact older persons. It is going to have an impact. And, it’s going to impact women whose names have changed.
Indiana’s Voter ID law was challenged all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court last year.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the lawsuit.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law and ruled it did not severely burden voters. Now The League of Women Voters has filed a separate lawsuit in Indiana, contending the ID requirements go against the state’s constitution.
That lawsuit has already been dismissed by an Indiana court, but the league is appealing to the Indiana Appellate Court.
Celestino-Horseman says the BMV’s new requirements will only add to the burden the voter ID law already places on the poor and elderly.
CELESTINO-HORSEMAN: The side-effect of all of this is that I have to go through all of this so that I can vote, yet at the same time we as a country are going across overseas and internationally telling people that freedom of voting is one of the most important rights that there is and we encourage them to open up their elections and to vote. While back here in Indiana, we’re doing nothing but making it more difficult.
The League of Women Voters isn’t the only group concerned about the potential impact of the new requirements.
So is a New York based advocacy organization called Demos. Demos is party to a lawsuit filed last month against the state of Indiana for a separate voter-related issue.
Federal motor-voter law states that anyone seeking public assistance through a state agency, must be provided a voter registration form.
Demos’ spokeswoman Brenda Wright claims Indiana isn’t doing that and that’s why the group is suing the state.
Wright says the new ID requirements in Indiana will prevent more poor people from voting.
WRIGHT: In Indiana, 40 percent of low income, eligible persons are not registered to vote. That’s something like 385,000 people. So, we need to be thinking about ways to open the process up and not ways to keep people out.
Indiana BMV spokesman Rosebrough says the new requirements are just putting into place what the 911 Commission called for to help thwart terrorism.
He says a person’s driver’s license is more than just to drive.
ROSEBROUGH: Because it has become such an important personal identification document, it really now has changed our responsibility to make sure that that document is in fact an accurate verification of your identity.
This year already, Indiana has reported 1100 cases of people trying to obtain duplicate identification cards to possibility be used to steal a person’s identity.