Why Voter ID Laws Are Controversial

When I went to vote last month, I was handed a slip of paper informing me that as of 2012 I will be required to show a valid government ID in order to vote. Presumably a lot of people got similar notices, as five new states passed voter ID laws in 2011: Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. These particular laws are also stricter than prior voter ID laws passed by other states.

The general argument for voter ID laws is that they prevent voter fraud by requiring voters to show ID and prove they are who they say they are. This seems reasonable enough on the face of it. Who could argue against ensuring that only eligible voters vote, right?

As you might guess from the fact that I'm continuing to write, there's more to it than that. According to the Brennan Center at the NYU School of Law, "Studies show that as many as 12% of eligible voters do not have government-issued photo ID." Guess who those 12% are? Well, it's primarily poor people, minorities, and students. Guess which party that 12% predominantly votes for? Democrats. Guess which party has been pushing for voter ID laws? Republicans.

Shocking, I know. While touting "fair play," what is actually happening is that Republican legislatures are attempting to change the rules in a way which directly favors their party. In the meantime, there is no widespread problem of individual voter fraud at the ballot box. The Republicans are clamoring to disenfranchise around 23 million Democratic voters in order to "fix" a problem that doesn't exist.

If the Republicans want to fix problems of election fraud, maybe they should look a little more closely at Diebold electronic voting machines. Of course they won't, though, because all the statistical discrepancies between election results on those machines and exit polls favor one party. I'll leave it to the reader to guess which one.
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