Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Voter ID Laws: Unjust, Unfair, and Unconstitutional--Fight for Your Right to Vote.

I've spent the last hour seething in my room over The Daily Show episode from last night that featured a segment about the new voter ID laws that have been put in place since in Stewart's words, "the gutting of the voting rights act" by the Supreme Court. Watching it, it wasn't information I didn't already know, but the format of the information in the typical succinct Daily Show format, reignited my fire over the issue of voter ID laws. Wanting to fact check Jon Stewart's information, I immediately looked up as much information I could about voter fraud in the United States. In accordance with my expectations, I came across several articles that identify the utter lack of voter fraud in the United States. It is one of those situations where politicians are saying something, and it is just undoubtedly false. When you have nonpartisan research groups and even papers oft described as right leaning telling you that what the Republican politicians triumphing voting ID laws are telling you about voting fraud is wrong, it's time to listen. 

If you don't know what a voter ID law is, then you are not the only one. What sounds like something that could make sense, in effect disenfranchises voters that do not have the means or funds necessary to obtain government issued photo identification. The laws set up restrictions on voting on the basis of requiring multiple forms of ID or photo forms of identification at the polls. This is just not feasible for many people at lower income levels that do not have multiple forms or any type of photo identification to present. For example, in Ohio, a driver's license is $23. It is then $25.75 for renewal. Including the renewal, that is $48.75 (Found on the Ohio BMV Website).  When you make less than $30,000 a year, you do not have the luxury of spending $48.75 on an ID, the only purpose of which you would use for voting. You don't need a license in general because often these individuals cannot afford cars, so a license doesn't serve a purpose besides voting. 

These laws thus clearly disproportionately affect low income individuals, racial minorities, students, the elderly. 11% of US citizens, equivalent to 21 million Americans, do not have a government issue photo ID. Approximately 25% of African Americans, compared to 8% of White Americans do not posses government issued photo ID. Of Americans who are over the age of 65, 18% do not posses a government issued photo ID. All of these people under these laws would not be able to vote (Statistics from the ACLU). Do we really want to disenfranchise 11% of the population, and disproportionately effect minority, elderly, and student voting? 

The answer, is yes. That is exactly what the people creating these laws want to do, and it is infuriating. You should be angry that Republicans don't want you to vote. If you are a young Republican, you should be even angrier. I'm not saying that you should vote for a Democrat, but I don't think anyone should vote for any individual who supports disenfranchising large populations of the American people, regardless of whether they are a Democrat or Republican. Republicans or any Democrats for that matter, who support these laws, don't deserve our votes. 

It astounds me that the party that claims to be the true American patriots, thinks that they are being patriotic when they disenfranchise potential voters. They claim to celebrate the Constitution, but they blatantly disregard 1st, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th, all of which protect our right to vote. Where is your love of the Constitution now? Why are some amendments more important than others? These are questions we should be asking anyone who supports voter identification laws that so blatantly disenfranchise large numbers of voters.

Protect your right to vote, and fight to protect the rights of others whose votes are being taken from them unfairly, unjustly, and unconstitutionally by misguided and deceptive politicians. 

(Image from the ACLU)

Further reading: 
Washington Post article on Voter Fraud
Jon Stewart's Daily Show segment on voter ID laws
ABC News Voter Fraud information
Forbes Editorial on Voter Fraud
NYU Study on Voter Fraud
Daily Show Segment on Voter ID Laws