The Ms Q&A: VoteRiders’ Kathleen Unger Talks Voter ID Laws and the Georgia Elections

JANUARY 6, 2021 — Kathleen Unger and her organization, VoteRiders, help to ensure onerous voter ID laws—which disproportionately disenfranchise people of color, low-income people, women and young people—don’t prevent voters from making their voices heard.

Published in Ms. Magazine

Written by Roxy Szal and Katie Fleischer


With the official race call of victories for Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, a historic and tumultuous election season is officially coming to a close.

Of course, the unrest plaguing this election season was made no easier by attacks on democracy and voting access. One such complication: voter ID laws, which in many states, rather than loosen, only became stricter this year. And Georgia, the state at the center of the most recent round of consequential elections, boasts one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country.

Voter ID laws have an immense impact on elections: They have been proven to reduce participation in elections by between 2 percent and 3 percent, a study by the Government Accountability Office found—a huge number, especially in swing states where elections are won and lost by razor-thin margins. In fact, 11 percent of Americans lack a government-issued photo ID which is included in all these laws—and, perhaps not surprisingly, this impact is felt greatest by Black, low-income, young as well as women voters, all of whom are less likely to have the proper IDs.

But while Trump and his right-wing allies did everything possible to try to thwart rule of law, democracy ultimately prevailed—thanks in large part to organizations like VoteRiders.