One of the biggest topics of the upcoming election is the possibility of voter identification laws in attempt to curb voter impersonation.
Voter ID laws are lawsÂ intended to make sure the voter is who they say they are. So in order to cast your vote at a polling place, it would be required to show a government issued photo identification.
Democrats and Republicans seem unable to come to an agreement on the issue with the later looking to end voter fraud and the former worrying about disenfranchising legitimate voters.
Currently, thirty-one states require some form of identification. Of those, 15 require any photo ID and five require one issued by the government.
Here on campus, nearly everyone has a legal ID. But for many in the nation, that is not the case.
According to a recent study by Lawrence Norden and Wendy Weiser, there are currently 3.2 million Americans who do not own government-issued photo identification. Of these, certain demographics would be heavily affected. The Brennan Center for Justice estimates 25 percent of African-Americans and 18 percent of seniors do not have identification.
Requiring all voters to obtain a government ID may not sound like a big deal to most students, however, for many in America, it isn’t that easy.
In order to get a government-issued photo ID, you must bringÂ your birth certificate.Â And in order to get your birth certificate you must have a photo ID. This circular process makes it nearly impossible for those from broken homes orÂ rural areas and others who don’t have copies of their birth certificate.
With many laws, it is expected that a small number may be adversly affected in order to do good. So here’s the real question: Is preventing voter fraud worth preventing the votes of up to three million entitled voters?
The short answer is no.
This isn’t because voter fraud is not bad. It’s because voter fraud is nearly nonexistent.
Since 2000, over six-hundred million people have voted in three seperate presidential elections. A study by News21 reveals that during this same period, there haveÂ only been 2,068 alleged cases of voter fraud.
According to another study from the Brennan Center, voter fraud happens at a frightening rate of 0.0004 percent. It is just as likely as the polling place being struck by lightning as you cast your vote.
Of this already small percentage, the majority of cases consisted of absentee ballot or registration fraud. Occuring outside of the polling place, none of these would ha ve been prevented by a photo ID requirement.
The law would only prevent in-person voter impersonation, of which there have been an incredible 10 cases in the last three elections.
Requiring government-issued photo IDs is something that we should aim for in future elections. Having more Americans with proper IDs would benefit more than the voting process.
However, voter fraud is not nearly significant enough to warrant a change in our system before election day on Nov 6. This is a problem that does not need to be fixed because it isn’t really a problem at all.
In the end, voter fraud is something we should aim to eradicate, but disenfranchising nearly three million Americans to achieve thatÂ goal would be foolish.