By KATIE BARLOW and REBECCA SABER
With an open mind and two sides of the story, you’re bound to learn something new.
Welcome to the zoo! This is a blog where both the Republican and Democrat viewpoints are represented. The blog is not meant to sway you either way necessarily, just present both sides of the story. You may not agree with the whole article, but hey, you’re likely to agree with half! The topic this week: Voter ID laws.
Requiring voters to provide identification restricts a certain demographic from voting for laws and representatives that directly impact their lives. Disenfranchising voters — particularly minorities, lower income adults, homeless people and seniors — who do not travel or own cars is just another ploy by Republicans meant to influence politics by hand-picking the voting pool. In 2012, more than 20 million Americans did not have any kind of photo identification (one in 10 eligible voters), 25 percent of which were African American and 18 percent were over the age of 65. These percentages compare to the mere 8 percent of white voters who do not have ID. Clearly, these laws create a disproportionate impact on particular citizens. Preventing voter fraud is important, but these requirements make it easier for certain politicians to pass laws that could harm citizens lacking identification.
Furthermore, there is no evidence proving that voter fraud is a problem that affects the outcome of any given election. From 2000 to 2014, there have been only 31 incidents of voter fraud out of the one billion ballots cast. This miniscule number is nothing compared to the 20 million Americans whose rights are curtailed by voter identification laws. Currently, 32 states require voters to show identification (be it a photo ID or a bank statement) before voting. Essentially, these laws require citizens to pay to vote since obtaining identification costs money and time. These unfair expectations lead certain voters to abstain from voting. Voting is a fundamental right protected by six constitutional amendments (1st, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th, 26th), which should never be infringed upon, much less by a political agenda. The shift in identification laws reflects the increase in party polarization and the desire of the Republican Party to prevent voters who support the Democratic Party from voting. Requiring identification is a backwards step in America’s efforts to promote equality for each citizen.
Love from your voting enthusiast,
The major claim against Voter ID laws is that the requirements are the new poll taxes or literacy tests. Because not everyone has an ID, the laws disenfranchise elderly, minority and low-income individuals. This claim is invalid. Many states make provisions so as not to deprive anyone of the right to vote. For example, in Colorado, voters can use a copy of a current utility bill, paycheck, bank statement, government check or voter ID card. Do the elderly, poor and minority individuals not have driver’s licenses, not use banks and not have electricity? In addition, nearly all states allow for the use of tribal IDs, even those states that do not have a large Native American population. The argument that voter ID disenfranchises millions of people is unfounded.
A closer look by numbers: According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 11 percent of U.S. citizens, that is roughly 21 million citizens, do not own a government-issued ID. This number is not representative of the voting population, but rather it includes all of those eligible to vote. Another study by Reuters and research firm Ipsos determined that those lacking suitable identification were less likely to vote anyways, “regardless of state law changes.” Of the individuals that identified as “certain to vote,” only one percent did not have proper government-issued ID. Those against Voter ID laws that argue even one percent is too many Americans stripped of their right to vote, recall that, depending on the state, these individuals could use another form of identification like a bank statement.
Those who are enraged that laws in some states, including Georgia, Arizona and Kansas, require proof of citizenship seem to be forgetting that citizenship is a requirement to vote. In order to vote and affect the outcome of this wonderful democratic republic, you must be a legal citizen. Birth certificates, passports or naturalization papers can easily prove a voter fulfills this criterion. Proof of American citizenship is not an hindrance as much as a valuable stop to safeguard the authenticity of the voting process.
It is clear that Voter ID laws are not measures meant to disenfranchise any particular subset of individuals, but rather to prevent election fraud and ensure that the individuals affecting the elections are American citizens.
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