Voter ID Laws: Are They Hostile or Friendly to a Fair Democracy?
Are laws that are supposed to hold up ideals of our democracy actually suppressing members of it?
by Pranav Arun
We have just inaugurated the 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden, after over 159 million people voted in the 2020 election, according to the New York Times. This was the largest turnout in a single election. This may be because of minorities, especially Native Americans, stepping out and voting. But why did these minorities, not present as much in previous elections, vote in the greatest number in this election? If you look at the Voter ID laws for all 50 states, you can see that Minnesota does not require a Voter ID law if you register. This allows minorities, who are generally more likely to not have Voter ID, to vote after registering. They do not have this because Voter IDs are usually driver’s licenses, and minorities are generally poorer and generally live in urban areas, relying on public transportation more. Voter ID laws are a photo ID of a citizen to be implemented as an extra layer of security at the polls, usually to prevent people from mimicking citizens at the polls. Voter ID laws are implemented in almost 33 states, according to the Washington Post, for the purpose of making polls and voting more secure. But should we value this possible increase in security over the voices of minorities? Let’s take a look.
The Washington Post tells us that Hispanic Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans are disproportionately affected by the implementation of Voter ID laws. Through data, we can see that in general elections, the turnout gap between white Americans and Latino citizens is almost 5 percent, but it increases to more than 13 percent in states with strict voter ID laws. The gap between white Americans and Asian-American turnout is 6.5 percent without voter ID, but it increases by 5% after voter ID implementation. For Black Americans, the turnout gap increases by 2% when Strict Voter ID states are observed compared to lax Voter ID laws. Even though Voter ID laws may provide an extra level of identification at the polling booth, we must decide between risking illegal votes and losing important minority votes. This is where the Trilemma is presented:
Should we continue to implement these voter ID laws and risk losing minority votes, should we ban these Voter ID laws and risk illegal votes by impersonation, or is there a neutral side?
People for Voter ID Laws:
Anyone familiar with the GOP should know that there is strong support for Voter ID laws due to the extra security they provide at polls. Some supporters go as far as to say that there would be fraud throughout the United States without them. There certainly has been voter fraud in the past, such as Melowese Richardson, a female poll worker accused of voting multiple times for Obama in a previous election, according to Forbes. As stated by the National Review, in 2016, a man named Randy Allen Jumper voted twice in two different places and then was arrested for it. There is no doubt that there are many instances of Voter Fraud in the past, but nothing has indicated that voter fraud has been widespread or election-changing. The Voter ID Laws may help fight small cases of election fraud, but is it really worth it?
People Against Voter ID Laws:
Many people also are against these voter ID laws, me being one of them. I personally believe that all strict Voter ID laws should be lifted in all states due to the effect they have on minority voting levels I believe that these rules are supported by the GOP not because of the fact that it provides an extra level of security at the polls, but the fact that it deters minorities when they come to the polls to vote. Of course, there have been cases of voter fraud caught before, but this is at such a low level that it never influences the outcome of the election, making these Voter ID laws highly useless, according to this side of the argument. If you seek a practical solution that values the views of all US citizens, I believe that this is the side for you.
The Possible Neutral Side:
Is there a possible neutral side to this heated argument about Voter ID laws? I believe there is. If states could stick with less strict and more relaxed Voter ID laws that can be achieved through driver’s licenses or similar relaxed forms of visual recognition, that could help with recognizing fraud at the polls and give minorities a fairer chance to go to the polls, register, and vote. Of course, this is a problem for each state to discuss separately, so it is not likely that they will reach this conclusion. However, it is up to you to decide where you stand in this issue. Would you stand to protect the voices of minorities like me, or would you prefer to protect our country against possible voter fraud?