I don’t go anywhere without my TCU ID. I need it to get into my dorm, to go to the Brown-Lupton University Union, the library or the gym. It gets me into games. When I go running at night, it’s the only thing I take with me. When I have misplaced my ID a few times, I have found myself incapable of doing almost anything until it turns up. The obvious truth is this: I need my ID for everything.
Now, some lawmakers are seeking to add a new function to that exhaustive list for IDs in general. According to a March 25 article from The Associated Press, Republicans in several state legislatures are trying to institute a new law that would require all voters to present a photo ID before they are allowed to cast a ballot. Proponents of the measure insist that it will help reduce voter fraud.
On the surface, this sounds like no big deal. After all, we need identification for everything else. The problem arises when you examine the motivation behind this new measure.
According to the article, Democrats argue this move will make it difficult for poor and minority voters to cast their votes. These groups are more likely to vote for the Democratic candidate, a fact opponents of the bill say Republicans are well aware of.
Others have compared it to the difficult “literacy tests” that were a requirement for African-Americans in the ‘60s, according to the article. These tests were often a crutch to keep blacks from voting.
In the same way, this new proposal presents a roadblock to American citizens without a driver’s license or other photo ID.
These proposals are unnecessary. The majority of states already have ways to verify voters’ identities by asking them to provide documents that provide their names and addresses. In addition, even proponents of the new law admit that cases of voter fraud are nearly nonexistent, according to the article. In most cases, voter fraud is a felony.
This knowledge would do more to discourage fraudulent voters than simply handing over their driver’s licenses.
Already, a disturbing number of people in this country do not vote, even in major or presidential elections. Creating more stipulations and hoops to jump through will put a hardship on those who will actually take the time to vote. Citizens should have an equal chance to make their voices heard. It is unhealthy for a free country to discourage or to make it more difficult for its people to vote.
Furthermore, the cost of providing IDs to Texans without driver’s licenses in the coming year is estimated at $2 million, according to the article. For a state already looking at a massive budget shortfall, that is a large amount of money to put toward rectifying a nonexistent problem. If Republicans really want to allocate funds toward the voting process, they should create programs that would encourage citizens to vote and not the other way around.
Katie Terhune is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Helena, Mont.