New laws will prevent voting, not vote fraud
Published: Sunday, October 2, 2011
Updated: Sunday, October 2, 2011 16:10
According to the League of Women Voters, Americans are twice as likely to get hit by lighting as to have their vote canceled out by a fraudulently cast vote.
Even so, many states are tightening their voter identification laws, claiming that showing photo identification at the polls will further prevent voter fraud.
Is this necessary? Not really.
In April 2007, the Bush administration cracked down on alleged voter fraud, but after five years of searching, only 120 cases of voter fraud were found in the entire nation. That number dropped after it was found that most of the cases involved voter misinformation and misunderstanding of eligibility requirements.
Currently, seven states have a "Strict Photo ID" law that requires voters to show a photo ID in order to vote. If a prospective voter does not have a voter ID, they must cast a provisional ballot. The problem with provisional ballots is that they may not be counted as real votes in certain cases. For example, in the 2004 presidential election, 1.9 million provisional ballots were cast but 35.5 percent of these ballots went uncounted, silencing the voices of hundreds of thousands of voters. Seven other states, including Florida, have "Photo ID" laws, where photo ID is required at the polls, but voters are still allowed to vote if they meet other criteria.
On the surface, the idea of requiring a photo ID at the polls seems simple. Voters must prove that they are themselves in order to vote, and that's an easy way to prevent voter fraud at the polls, right?
Wrong. As stated before, cases of voter fraud are extremely rare. At this point, it should become clear that photo ID laws aren't out to target voter fraud, they're out to target voters. Some say that these photo ID laws are the equivalent of poll taxes and literacy tests and have the effect of turning minority voters away from the polls.
American voters have an annual mobility rate of 14 percent. Black and Hispanic voters have higher mobility rates than the rest of the electorate at around 18 percent. Voters in those minority groups who have incomes below the poverty level are even more likely to get out to the polls at a 24 percent mobility rate. In seven states, these voters would be required to show a valid photo ID or be forced to cast a provisional ballot.
However, 25 percent of black voting-age citizens do not have a valid government-issued photo ID and neither do 16 percent of Hispanic voters. It is in this way that "Strict Photo ID" laws target the aforementioned minority groups that are less likely to possess the photo identification that is required for them to vote. That's 25 percent of African-American voting-age citizens (5.5 million voters) and 16 percent of Hispanic voting-age citizens who are automatically disenfranchised by no fault of their own.
Overall, 11 percent citizens in the United States do not possess a valid government-issued photo ID. This means that more than 21 million people would not be eligible to cast a real ballot on election day if they lived in one of the seven states that have mandated "Strict Photo ID" laws.
So don't be fooled. It is obvious that the motives of stricter photo ID laws are not pointed toward preventing rare occurrences of voter fraud but to turn minority voters away from the polls. Loud and clear — this is voter suppression.