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Friday, September 7, 2012 - 12:02pm

Columbus Expands Access To Voter IDs

Columbus officials concerned about residents having the proper identification to vote in November are expanding access this month.

They’re particularly worried about the impact of new driver’s license renewal requirements. So for the next three Saturdays, elections officials will set up at the Columbus Public Library to check voters’ registrations and issue voter ID cards for those who need them.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said strict new rules for driver’s license and state ID card renewals are leaving some voters without enough time to get the identification they need to cast their ballots.

“You’ve had to have some sort of ID since 2006, and the world hasn’t stopped spinning on its axis. We’ve managed," Tomlinson said.

"But I think what’s going to be new this year is these really high-bar requirements to get a state-issued license, to get your driver’s license renewed. There’s a lot of, quote, regular folks -- you know, not people trying to game the system -- regular folks, our neighbors, engaged citizens that aren’t going to be able to get their proper identification to vote and that’s where I think the problem is,” she said.

Georgia lawmakers created the free voter identification cards in 2006. The cards meet state identification requirements at the polls for voters who lack a valid driver’s license or state ID card from the Department of Driver Services.

National studies say 11 percent of voters lack government-issued photo I-D. The number is higher for seniors, low-income, minority and disabled voters.