Monday, September 10, 2012

Plain and Simple: Voter ID Laws Seek to Disenfranchise Certain Voters

There's something insidious occurring these days in the world of American politics: it's the rash of new voter identification laws. On the surface, these new laws, requiring eligible voters to provide state issued photo identification at the polls, seem to be a common-sense approach to ensure election integrity. What's wrong with asking a voter to prove his or her identity? 

Proponents claim that the laws are necessary, or at least useful, to fight voter fraud; yet, there is little, if any evidence, that any significant number of people have attempted to vote illegally. As one expert put it, cases of voter fraud are more rare than getting struck by lightening

So why the new laws? 

Take the case of heavily Democratic Philadelphia where 18 percent of registered voters are without a current driver's license or other appropriate ID. After Pennsylvania passed its voter ID law, Republican House Majority Speaker Mike Turazi made no secret of the partisan nature of the new law. He told a Republican gathering in June that the new ID law would, "allow Governor Romney to win the state."

Republicans aren't even coy about it! The new ID laws seek to disenfranchise certain people from voting. Specifically, demographic groups that tend to vote for Democratic candidates. It's no coincidence that voter ID laws have only been enacted in Republican controlled states.

Nationwide, 25 percent of African-Americans and 18 percent of all Americans over 65 lack the kind of government-issued ID that would permit them to vote under the voter ID laws. And getting the proper ID takes time and costs money, especially for the poor, the disabled, and the young. A would-be voter must pay substantial fees both for an ID card and the backup documents needed to get it. The voter may also need to take several hours off work and travel significant distances to visit government offices that issue appropriate ID, offices that are only open during select daytime hours. 

Let's be realistic, these laws weren't enacted for the public good. They're aimed at benefiting a particular political party.

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