Voter ID laws to disenfranchise Americans

Brian Westrick

American citizens are supremely fortunate to have the right to vote for governmental officials. We hold this right very dear and believe that it is the duty of every citizen to have their voices heard by those in power.

No voice can be as powerful as a flat out commitment to a certain candidate during an election. This is why we all ought to be extremely suspicious and very harsh when scrutinizing the latest crop of laws which disenfranchise certain groups of voters.

Seven states currently have enacted what is known as a “strict photo ID” requirement. This forces any and all citizens wishing to partake in the democratic process to provide an approved form of photo identification at the polls on Election Day. This measure was enacted to combat voter fraud.

I only have one question for the Grand Old Party politicians who support this measure. And indeed it is a question put forward by The Election Assistance Commission, the Department of Justice and Slate Magazine: “What voter fraud?”

After an exhaustive study by the United States Department of Justice performed with the sole intent of “ferreting out voter fraud,” over a five-year span the total number of convictable cases of voter fraud was an astounding zero.

Not “a minority of investigated cases,” not “a marginal amount,” not “far too few to affect an election” but zero. What exactly is it that these laws accomplish, if not preventing illegal voting?

Well if you ask Mike Turzai, Republican Speaker of the House for the state of Pennsylvania, you’ll get what should be the most telling and shocking answer you could possibly imagine. “[These laws] will allow Mitt Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

Now if that’s not evidence that these laws have their entire existence based on the notion of political gain, I’m not sure what is.

If you had some doubts, then here are a few things that other people had to say about voter fraud and voter ID laws.

Attorney General Eric Holder compares them to the Jim Crow-era Poll Taxes (outlawed by the 24th Amendment).

UC-Irvine professor and election law specialist Rick Hasen states: “When you see election fraud, it invariably involves election officials taking steps to change election results, or it involves absentee ballots, which voter ID laws cannot combat.”

New York University’s Brennan Center states that 21 million Americans who are eligible to vote lack sufficient identification and would be turned away from the ballot box for no other reason than a lack of sufficient ID.

Some advocates of these laws might say things like: “How can you even live in America without an ID? I don’t know what I’d do without mine.”

To them I simply say: so what?

There are many activities that Americans can enjoy without government issued identification, such as driving, cashing checks at a new bank, purchasing age-sensitive products, etc.

None of those things are guaranteed in our Constitution as a right given to all Americans above the age of 18. That’s what makes those activities different from voting.

Others may say that identification is cheap and readily available, so no one’s rights are really being affected by these laws. If you look at the other rights guaranteed by the Constitution, then you’ll see that they don’t require photo ID: not freedom of religion; not freedom of press; not the right to due process.

The right to vote is no different and imposing restrictions on the right to vote is a direction violation of Constitutional rights. These rights cannot be given qualifiers so that Americans have to jump through hoops in order to actually have them.

They are rights, not privileges. This comes down to one thing: a political move by the Grand Old Party in order to literally change the rules of an election that they know is otherwise lost. Changing the rules is not the answer.

Take for example Republican Scott Walker. Shortly after signing voter ID laws into place in his state of Wisconsin, he finalized plans to shut down 10 Department of Motor Vehicle offices, largely in districts with a Democratic majority.

Republican Rick Perry, who also worked to shut down over 80 Department of Motor Vehicle offices which were, again, largely in communities that had the telltale signs of a Democrat majority.

Denying Americans the right to vote by requiring them to provide ID at the voting booth is a cheap political tactic.

Nowhere does it say in the Constitution that in order to enjoy the freedoms guaranteed to American citizens that you have to show a form of government ID.

This law serves no other purpose than to deny the right to vote to some Americans. It is an awful political ploy to keep some out of the voting booths this November.

There is no evidence, no precedent, of voter fraud in any of the 50 states. If there is no problem, then why have Republicans created a solution they so strongly support?

The answer is simple: keeping Democrats at home will give Republican candidates a better chance of being elected.

Political parties cannot alter voting laws. There is a reason that politicians cannot “gerrymander” a voting district, which is the altering of political boundaries to give on party or the other a considerable advantage.

Voter ID laws are the new practice of gerrymandering, and it is an immoral practice.

The cost of these laws is too high. No one should be denied the right to vote because they do not have picture ID with them on Election Day. These laws need to be opposed by all Americans.