Voter identification measures have met a contentious chorus of partisan voices on both sides. The issue arose throughout numerous Republican-led states, including highly publicized fights in Texas, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Proponents cite the need to prevent voter fraud, while opponents reply that these measures would keep a significant portion of legally registered voters away from the polls.
In this respect, voter ID laws are akin to using a bomb to kill a bug. Bipartisan commissions nationwide have failed to find widespread evidence that voter fraud even exists. Nonpartisan groups in many of these states with new ID laws have similarly come up empty. The hullabaloo surrounding voter fraud seems to be much ado about nothing. Instead, voter fraud is merely a ploy to disenfranchise voters who plan on voting for the opposing party.
Take Florida — new demands for proof of citizenship and photo ID ostracize 10 million Hispanic voters who seek to cast a vote this fall. Or Pennsylvania, where a bill signed in March by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett threatens to keep 10 percent of state-wide voters and 18 percent of Philadelphia voters from the ballot box . With a 44 percent population of African-Americans in Philadelphia, this voter ID law now indentures black voters and other marginalized groups who are unable to obtain valid identification primarily because of economic constraints.
In court last week, the American Civil Liberties Union claimed Pennsylvania has only issued nine percent of the total amount of IDs they estimate are necessary to ensure complete participation. Various issues, including costs associated with obtaining photo IDs, have been weighed, and the Supreme Court seems to be paving the way for the law to be blocked, at least until after the November election.
There is a deeper disconnect that is apparent here. Republicans, instead of supporting programs and policies intended to draw poor or minority voters to their side, would rather prevent them from voting altogether. Instead of providing African-Americans in Pennsylvania or Hispanics in Florida a voice, the GOP solution via voter ID laws, is to silence them.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 24 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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