The Truth About Voter ID
The argument that every proponent of Voter ID laws makes is that they are needed to stop voter fraud. The only problem is...
Voter fraud is virtually non-existent.
A study conducted by Justin Levitt, a professor at the Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, and an expert in constitutional law and the law of democracy, found ONLY thirty-one (31) cases of fraud in more than one billion votes (1,000,000,000) cast in the Primary and General Elections across the country between 2000 to 2014. That is "billion" with a "B". If you want to deep dive into the Myth of Voter Fraud, the Brennan Center for Justice has compiled extensive evidence debunking any notion of voter fraud in America.
So if there is no voter fraud then why do Republican politicians push for Voter ID laws?
Quite simply, Voter ID laws stop Democrats from voting. A study done at the University of San Diego shows that Voter ID laws disproportionately affect people of color, women, disables, poor, elderly, and students — all of whom generally vote for Democrats. Admittedly, some Republican voters do get caught up in the net, but not nearly as many as those who vote for Democrats.
A lot of progressives know these laws are bad, but they might not know exactly why. And a common question you hear from people who generally aren't affected by Voter ID laws is: "What’s so hard? Why can't they just get off their ass and get an ID to vote?"
This is inherently racist, ableist, classist and utterly clueless. Voters needing to obtain a Voter ID have to overcome two very large obstacles: ACCESS and COST.
The assumption is that everyone has a car and all the time in the world to go the nearest ID office. But, everyone doesn’t own a car and therefore must rely on friends or relatives for a ride. Or they must use public transportation or taxis to get an ID office. This is a hidden cost in fuel or transportation charges.
Even if they are able to get themselves to an ID office, sometimes there is the challenge of finding an ID office that is open. Or at least open when the voter is able to get to the ID office. Most people have jobs, kids, school, or responsibilities and can’t just leave when they want to.
Access can be difficult enough without government interference, but what if the government goes out of their way to make it even harder? In Alabama, for example. the mistress of disgraced former Alabama GOP Governor Bentley urged him to close the DMV offices in minority communities after Alabama’s Voter ID law was passed.
Another thing to consider is time. Voters cannot control how long it takes the government to process their paperwork. Even if they have done everything right they still may be denied the right to vote either due to legitimate delays or malicious intent.
Or maybe a voter recently relocated from a state with no Voter ID law to a state that has one and through no fault of their are now not able to vote because of the restrictive voting laws in their new state.
Furthermore, voters who live in rural areas may live hours away from the nearest ID office adding even more time required to get this “easy-to-obtain” ID.
All of these challenges could result in an American citizen being disenfranchised and without a voice in their future.
Even if a voter is able to overcome the issue of access they may not be able to afford an ID.
Some states, like Georgia, try deflate the argument against Voter ID by saying that they will give an ID to any voter for "FREE". But, what they don’t say is that to obtain the “free” ID voters must provide OTHER documents which in many cases they do not have and will have to obtain elsewhere. And these documents are NOT free.
In order to get a “FREE” ID in Georgia you must provide ID from a list of accepted documents.
A valid U.S. Passport Card or Book - $55 or $135 respectively. BUT, to get one the voter needs to prove they are a U.S. Citizen which will require ID and money to obtain.
A Georgia Birth Certificate - Money Order, $26.20, Certified Check, $35 or online ($33). BUT, to get a Birth Certificate the voter must provide ID from a list of pre-approved IDs which cost money and require ID
A voter can apply for a new Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship - $555. A replacement requires additional documentation as well which costs money and potentially requires ID
If the voter was born BEFORE Jan 1, 1940 they can request a copy of their SSA Numident records - $27
If the voter was born BEFORE Jan 1, 1940 they can provide their ORIGINAL U.S. Military Discharge Papers.
Furthermore, on top of transportation costs, the voter also faces the possibility of lost wages for missing work and/or potential costs for childcare. All of these costs amount to a poll tax on low-income Americans who, if faced with the choice of paying for a Voter ID versus paying their heating bill, are going to pay to keep the heat on.
And remember, there were only 31 cases of voter fraud in a fourteen year period. But, there are THOUSANDS of voters in every state with a Voter ID law that may lose their right to vote. This is perfectly illustrated by Wisconsin who has been at the forefront of suppressing the vote.
Voter ID laws and voter restrictions in general, disenfranchise voters and deny Americans a say in their future. They are a cure in search of the non-existent disease: "voter fraud".
For more details on the impact of Voter ID laws please read: "The Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification" by the Brennan Center; "How Voter ID Laws Discriminate" by Vann R. Newkirk II; and the ACLU's "FACT SHEET on Voter ID Legislation". And the video at the top was provided by LET AMERICA VOTE.