Voter identification makes voting intolerable

Lauren J. Mapp, Editor-in-Chief

Republican legislators in several states – under the banner of preventing fraudulent voting activity –have been advocating for more stringent voter ID laws, but such reasoning is actually a mask used to hide a deeper social issue.

Voter ID laws are allegedly built to protect against individual voter impersonation fraud, but this so-called affliction is less common than the laws’ proponents would have their audience believe. This was illustrated in a study conducted by the New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice.

While the study does not discount electoral foul play in forms such as passing incorrect information about voting dates and poll locations, it does show that cases of individual people impersonating others are few and far between. In this analysis, former Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox, a Democrat,  said that she did not remember a single case of fraudulent voting in her 10-year career as an election official.

Instead of cracking down on impersonation fraud, what these laws actually do is to disenfranchise constituents – many of whom are living in impoverished communities – making it more difficult for them to vote.

Student and military voters oftentimes live in other states than their home base temporarily, and they do not always switch to the new state’s driver’s license. In such situations, they’re ineligible to partake in local and state elections – though they can participate in national elections via an absentee ballot.

There are laws against poll taxes in order to make voting more easily accessible to people within American society, but such laws are moot if a person has to pay for an identification card.

It may not seem like it would be that big of a hassle to obtain a photo ID for most people, but some situations can make the process more difficult. This may prove to be especially trying for someone who does not already have one, especially if they are dealing with financial troubles already.

If someone has had their social security card stolen or lost a birth certificate, then it becomes a complicated procedure to get a driver’s license or ID.

It is estimated that about 10 percent of potential voters are unable to obtain the licenses needed to vote under such laws, and that generally these laws impact communities that have “traditionally faced barriers at the poll,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Citizens who are elderly, living in poverty, people of color, students and those who are disabled are the most likely to be affected.

Certain situations can make obtaining identification both a time intensive and expensive process. Viviette Applewhite – a 93-year-old African American woman in a wheelchair – was facing difficulty in getting an ID in her home state of Pennsylvania.

Though the circumstances that created her perplexing case were rare – a stolen Social Security card and a lack of birth certificate – voting meant so much to Applewhite that she fought her way through.

If voter ID laws were helpful to the nation as a whole, then there would be strong support from both sides, instead of just from a single political party. All these laws succeed in doing is preventing people from voting, and often times it is conservative Republicans in favor of the laws, whilst liberal people or those most likely to vote for a Democratic candidate are the ones being silenced.