By Saira Singh
Although it is important to prevent voter fraud, the inevitable effect of mandating citizens to provide a photo I.D. is that a disproportionate amount of low-income minorities will no longer be able to vote.
Obtaining a picture I.D. requires money and time some people cannot afford to spend. Even if a state issues picture I.D.s for free, the necessary documents needed to obtain one still cost money; for example, in California it costs a shocking $28.00 just to get a copy of your birth certificate. Voting is a fundamental right guaranteed to every citizen over the age of 18 in the United States. People shouldn’t have to pay for it.
In particular, low income groups are much more affected by these laws than other Americans. Financially struggling citizens are less likely to vote should they be required to provide an I.D., putting them at a disadvantage to everyone else. How is it fair that their financial position limits the opportunity to have their opinions represented by the government?
Furthermore, voter identification laws are discriminatory. According to the American Citizens Liberty Union, “As many as 25% of African American citizens of voting age do not have a government-issued photo I.D., compared to only 8% of their white counterparts.” These laws will affect African Americans, Latino Americans, and other ethnic groups who have higher poverty rates than their white counterparts. Enacting these laws would be a complete violation of the equal rights and representation guaranteed to every American citizen.
Lastly, voter I.D. laws are ineffective. According to a study conducted by Arizona State University, the primary form of voter fraud is mailed absentee ballots, making up 14% of the 31 cases of voter fraud identified since 2000.
Voter impersonation, which involves showing up to the election booth and voting as someone else, is the kind of fraud voter I.D. laws may be able to prevent, but these make up a mere 3.6%. Mandating a voter I.D. at government elections would barely reduce voter fraud.
Reducing voter fraud is simply not worth violating the rights of American citizens, as voter I.D. laws deny some citizens their fundamental right to vote, put minorities at a further disadvantage to their white counterparts, and barely solve the problem they were created to resolve.
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