In an interview with ThinkProgress, Strickland lambasted the laws — which require citizens to present some form of government-issued photo ID in order to vote — as a concerted GOP effort to suppress voters through a modern day poll tax:
STRICKLAND: The voter suppression efforts that we’re seeing in multiple states across the country is shameful behavior on the part of the Republicans in those states. It’s a national coordinated effort, in my judgement. They are doing it without shame. It is a threat to our democracy. [...] I think every Republican should be embarrassed at what’s happening within their party in terms of trying to deprive Americans of the right to vote. There is no question in my mind they are targeting poor people, and minority individuals, students, and some older people in terms of the requirements they are trying to put in place. [...] And there are minorities in this country that have a history of being deprived their legitimate right to vote, and we used to have the poll tax. In my judgment, requiring a photo ID and some of these other measures that are being suggested are equivalent to enacting a poll tax.
As of 2012, 10 states have put voter ID laws in place, though a full 11 percent of eligible American voters lack government-issued photo ID. Poor, minority, and elderly voters — who usually lean Democratic — are especially likely to fall into that group: 25 percent of African-Americans, 16 percent of Hispanics, and 18 percent of Americans over 65 don’t have photo ID and would be sent away from the polls.
As the Brennan Center for Justice noted in a recent study, advocates of voter ID laws often argue that the requirement does not disenfranchise poor voters because state-issued photo identification is available free of charge. But in 9 of the 10 states with voter ID laws, eligible voters must provide supporting documentation — at a significant cost — to then obtain the state-issued ID necessary for voting. And according to Strickland, this kind of deliberate Republican effort to disenfranchise poor voters is, in a word, “shameful.”