The cost of the IDs aside, most of these voters don't have access to transportation to obtain the ID. To complicate matters more, in many of these states, the offices that are designated to issue IDs are open infrequently for short periods of time.
Even if someone seeking photo ID manages to travel to an ID-issuing office, there is no guarantee it will be open during regular business hours. In Wisconsin, Alabama, and Mississippi, fewer than half of all ID-issuing offices are open five days a week. None are open on weekends. And some offices maintain truly unusual hours: the office in Woodville, Mississippi is open only on the second Thursday of each month.There's even one office, in Sauk City, Wisconsin, that's open "only on the fifth Wednesday of any month. That would limit the office to being open just four days this year." Sure, you can get a free voter ID, if you happen to have one of those four days free, have transportation, and already have the necessary documentation—birth certificate, marriage license, divorce decree—all lined up. One state court judge found that these barriers are a "substantial impairment of the right to vote" guaranteed by Wisconsin's constitution, and blocked the voter ID law from being implemented. So voters in Sauk City will at least be able to exercise their franchise. They're among the lucky.
The report also provides an extensive look at the scarcity of ID-issuing offices in areas heavily populated by people of color and those in poverty — the exact population that most lack government-issued photo ID.
In 11 Alabama counties within the rural “black belt,” there are more than 60,000 eligible black voters but no driver’s license offices open more than two days per week. In Texas, in 32 counties near the Mexico border, there are 80,000 Hispanic eligible voters but only two such ID-issuing offices. Across the voter ID states, many of the offices with limited hours are located in rural areas with high concentrations of minority voters.
Since these laws have passed around the country, we've seen plenty of examples of what it can cost both in terms of money and time and hassle to get the documents necessary to get what might be a "free" voter ID.