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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Harsh voter ID laws hinder openness, fairness in elections

    In the United States, you cannot be denied the right to vote because of sex, color or sexual orientation. But as the presidential election in November rapidly approaches, it seems you can be denied if you are likely to vote Democratic.

    Over the summer, multiple states with a Republican-majority legislature attempted to pass voter identification laws. Admittedly, some of these states have been working on stricter voter identification for years. But since 2011, Alabama, Texas, South Carolina and Tennessee all have passed voter ID laws that require photo identification. Only one state with a Democrat-controlled legislature, Rhode Island, has enacted a voter identification policy, passed earlier this year.

    “In this day and age, nothing could be more rational than requiring a photo ID when voters come to the polls,” said Patrick Cawley, a senior deputy attorney general in Pennsylvania, according to the Huffington Post.

    One can almost see his side: It’s surely not unreasonable to ask people to have proof that they are who they say they are. One could even put a spin on it and say that the only reason Democrats aren’t more willing to reform voter identification policies is because they risk losing some of their voting base.

    But according to data collected by the NYU Brennan Center for Justice, evidence from the 2004 gubernatorial election in Washington state shows that though voter fraud does happen, it happens only about 0.0009 percent of the time. The 2004 Ohio elections were also similarly analyzed and revealed a voter fraud rate of 0.00004 percent.

    That doesn’t really make it an urgent issue, like Republican Gov. Rick Perry has claimed.

    Still, some states have taken it even further. A law in Pennsylvania would make student IDs an ineligible form of voter identification unless the ID has an expiration date.

    Take a look at your CatCard. There’s no expiration date on it. In fact, the majority of colleges and universities in Pennsylvania don’t have expiration dates on their IDs either, and despite universities like Penn State attempting to change this, the majority of upperclassmen won’t have expiration dates on their IDs.

    Additionally, Arizona law allows out-of-state students to participate in Arizona elections while they are living here. The same applies for out-of-state students in Pennsylvania. This wouldn’t be a problem if Pennsylvania allowed out-of-state licenses to be eligible. It doesn’t.

    This is strictly to discourage young voters from registering to vote in their home state of 4 years, so that their votes don’t screw up the projected results in a potential battleground state.

    Political science studies of voter behavior have shown, time and time again, that young voters tend to vote more liberally.

    Obama currently sits at an 12-percentage point lead in Pennsylvania, according to a Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll. Stricter voter ID laws will undoubtedly influence the election.

    According to the NYU Brennan Center for Justice, photo identification is “a policy that disenfranchises up to 10 percent of eligible citizens.” But even one percent is too much.

    That’s not how a democratic republic works. You can’t keep people from voting just because you don’t like the way they vote.

    — Dan Desrochers is a pre-journalism sophomore. He can be reached at or on Twitter via @drdesrochers.

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