Cosby: Point counterpoint: Voter ID Regulations – from the Left
- Jan. 22, 2012
- 2 Comments
To see opposing argument from Christian Corrigan go to http://www.kansan.com/news/2012/jan/22/corrigan-point-/
Something happened after the 2008 election. Greater turnout of young voters provided a boost for the Obama campaign, and when he won the presidency, the Republican Party panicked.
The panic resulted in a slew of states passing laws requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, as well as some laws eliminating early voting on Sundays.
The government cannot overreach its power and begin impeding the ability of certain age groups and other specific populations of citizens to reach the polls. Such a practice is disturbingly reminiscent of the poll tax.
According to the New York Times, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School conducted a study that found at least five million legal, eligible voters would face difficulties at the polls if these laws were still in effect in 2012. This is largely because a portion of the electorate, often groups who are marginalized in other ways due to economic status or minority status, does not have state-issued photo identification.
These laws also specifically affect students who are not trying to subvert the law but simply want to exercise their right to vote.
This is a specific effort targeted at young people and students because of their inclination to vote for the Democratic candidate. They are targeted because they often have to vote away from home, and these laws have effectively invalidated many college IDs as a form of identification (as some universities now must revamp their student ID card systems, which takes time and money), causing problems for out-of-state students trying to register to vote (New York Times, Dec. 2011).
By taking away measures that facilitate voting for students, a group that already votes in small numbers will have even less incentive or ability to vote.
But Republican lawmakers are not concerned about the low voting trend among young people and are happy to stifle the voices of the students who do want to participate in the political process because it better serves their interests.
(Christian’s arguments are in italics. Kelly’s responses are below).
Proving your identity is an accepted, routine, and necessary part of our everyday lives. And it isn’t just for things like driving, flying, cashing checks, and buying drinks. I have a constitutional right to buy a legal firearm, but in order to exercise that right, I have to present ID and undergo a background check.
It is obviously true that in order to purchase items like alcohol or tobacco, or in order to fly on an airplane, or drive a car, or use a credit card, one must have state-issued ID. This is exactly why the requirement of photo identification at the polls marginalizes a specific group in the electorate: the people who are not able to do any of the above activities, namely because they cannot afford such conveniences, are the ones who do not have state-issued ID.
The right to vote is fundamental. It of course encompasses the right to physically cast a vote on election day. But it also includes our right to not have our legitimate votes nullified by illegal acts such as voter fraud.
The key in the right-wing argument is that these isolated incidents of voter fraud are pinned on liberals who are given a bad name because of groups like ACORN. Obviously most Democrats do not support voter fraud, as they value just as much as other party members the foundations of equal political representation. Some Republicans just use isolated cases like this to justify the very discriminatory practice of essentially eliminating a portion of the Democratic electorate.
In 2008, the Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s Voter ID law. The opinion was written by none other than liberal Justice John Paul Stevens.
While the idea that voter ID laws don’t really have an effect on turnout for Democratic voters based on the Indiana law is interesting, I find it to be irrelevant. The point of giving every citizen the right to vote without unnecessary obstacles is not about advancing one party over the other; it is about one’s individual rights in relation to the political process. This is why I agree that a vote is fundamental and should be safeguarded in the sense that each individual’s ability to vote should be protected.
Kelly Cosby is a senior in political science and English from Overland Park.