With DMVs Closed And Backlogged, People Who Want to Vote Are Struggling Even To Register

OCTOBER 21, 2020 — Even in states with relatively relaxed and progressive voting rules, COVID-19 is complicating the act of casting a ballot in unexpected ways, and presenting challenges few could have foreseen outside the context of the pandemic.

Published in Talking Points Memo

Written by Tierney Sneed

Voters Who Are ‘Confused And Intimidated’

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for voters is the way in which confusion over the rules is colliding with these pandemic-related obstacles.

“Big picture, there are between 25 and 40 million voting age Americans who do not have a government issued photo ID,” said Kathleen Unger, the founder of VoteRiders, which provides assistance for voters struggling to comply with various ID requirements. “You could have as many millions who are so confused and intimidated by complicated and ever-changing laws that they are deterred from voting even if they have a valid ID.”

North Carolina’s voter ID requirement is on hold due to a court order, though an ID is still required for online registration.

Angela Tate told TPM that when her son, who just turned 18, was unable to get a DMV appointment before the election, she feared that he’d miss out on his first chance to cast a ballot.

It was only through VoteRiders that she learned that he wouldn’t need the ID to vote, and that if he went to an in-person early voting site, he could register to vote as well without the state identification.

She has since set up a time for VoteRiders to provide transportation for him to an early voting site to get registered and to vote.

“He was really stressed out because he was really looking forward to having his vote get counted,” Tate said. The assistance she got from VoteRiders, she said, “took the edge off.”