It’s a powerful time to be in college. Most students are experiencing their first presidential debates, discussing political issues and registering for an election where they can vote for the first time.
Or at least they hope.
Let’s take a step back. It’s a simpler time, before the Great Recession, Romney vs. Obama battles and iPhones — 2006.
No state required a voter to produce a government-issued photo ID as a requirement before the 2006 U.S. senate elections. Late that year Indiana became the first state to mention a photo ID law. The U.S. Supreme court later upheld the law in 2008.
The idea has ripped through states like wildfire since then. In 2011 alone, 34 of all U.S. states introduced bills that require voters to show a photo ID tovote. Of those states, 14 already had voter ID laws in place but wanted to one-up their restriction, namely by introducing the photo aspect.
So, why does all this matter? Well, the rehearsed reasoning for these laws’ introduction is to crack down on voter fraud.
This raises eyebrows because 10 cases of voter impersonation out of 2,068 alleged election fraud cases have been reported since 2000, according to a national investigative report by News21. That means one out of every 15 million potential voters is a fraud. As I said, rehearsed reason.
The real reason?
The GOP took the house after the 2010 midterms. Republicans had several “major legislative priorities” with establishing voter ID laws amongst them. Excluding Rhode Island, every state involved in voter requirement reform is headed by a Republican-majority legislatures.
With this in mind, who is the GOP excluding from the voting booth? NYU’s Brennan Center reports 21 million people or 11 percent of U.S. citizens, don’t have government-issued photo IDs. Some might say the solution is simple — buy an ID.
But it’s deeper than that.
It’s not just the cost of ID but the required documents such as birth certificates, which can cost up to $25. There’s also the transportation to the office, which is particularly difficult in rural areas, and the ability to be present during business hours, which often requires a potential voter to take off work.
The segment of these citizens is crystal clear. Those who lack a valid photo ID tend to be minorities, elderly, unemployed, in poverty and young, particularly students.
In the past, college students who attend school out of state such as myself could use their school ID and dorm address to vote in the state their institute is located. In a number of states, that’s no longer the case.
Indiana, New Hampshire and Florida students must present a state-issued government ID despite their newly established residency. Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have adopted the same rules, though they do not take effect until after Nov. 6.
And the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 16 turned down Ohio’s proposal to eliminate early voting the weekend before Election Day. The Obama campaign, which presented the lawsuit, argued the time period sees high numbers of poor and minority voters.
Oh yeah, and all previously mentioned states are historically swing states.
What is most shocking, bold and nauseating is the GOP makes no attempt to hide its efforts to throw this election.
At a Republican State Committee meeting last month, Mike Turzai, majority leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives said “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
This isn’t an issue of party lines or political loyality. It is blantent voter disenfranchisement.
Attorney General Eric Holder has compared the laws to a poll tax, echoing the way southern states imposed voting fees during the Jim Crow era. Until the passage of the grandfather clauses, the tax discouraged blacks and poor whites from voting. These voter ID laws are the same ideology for a new area.
Minorites, women, young people and the poor have historically gone through inconceivable feats for the right to vote fairly and equally just like every other citizen. Allowing this election to be swayed because of a certian group’s inability to vote would be a disappoint, unconstitutional and a disservice to all the battles fought for us to get to where we are today.