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Voter ID laws protect individuals’ vote

Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013

Updated: Thursday, April 18, 2013 17:04

Arkansas now requires voters to present photo ID before casting a ballot after Governor Mike Beebe’s veto of Senate Bill 2 was overridden.

This is just one of the more controversial moves by the Arkansas State Legislature since the GOP captured both the House and the Senate in the November elections.

This move was welcomed by conservatives who believe it will help preserve the integrity of elections, but leftists are adamant that this bill and similar bills in other states are deliberate attempts at voter disenfranchisement.  
Leftists argue that poor voters -- including many blacks, Latinos, and elderly people -- often do not have IDs and thus face discrimination.

They are not shy about accusing conservatives of deliberately trying to keep these demographics from voting because they often vote for Democratic candidates.

While it is true that voter ID laws intend to keep some people from voting, U.S. citizens are not included in this list.

Supporters of such measures want to keep people who aren’t legally allowed to vote, primarily illegal immigrants, from voting.

ID laws also aim to eliminate voter fraud perpetuated through the registration of dead people and fictional characters like Mickey Mouse in states such as North Carolina and Florida.

Furthermore, the argument that most poor people don’t have or can’t obtain a photo ID is absolutely ridiculous.

A simple identification card in the state of Arkansas costs $5. There are a wealth of identifying documents to choose from to verify your identity when applying for an ID.

You need an ID to open a bank account, rent a car or board a plane because you must be able to prove you are who you say you are. Why should voting be any different?
Gov. Beebe and opponents of the bill in the state legislature say there is no proof of voter fraud in Arkansas.

This isn’t true -- former State Rep. Hudson Hallum’s 2011 scheme to bribe voters into letting him and others fill out absentee ballots on their behalf made national news -- but even assuming it is, why should we not take precautions to ensure it won’t occur in the future?
Voting is an essential civil right, but when voter fraud is allowed to occur it threatens the integrity of votes from honest citizens. Protecting the voting process should be a top priority of our government.

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stephens, in the leading opinion of Crawford v. Marion County Election BD., which upheld Indiana’s voter ID law, wrote that “Each of Indiana’s asserted interests is unquestionably relevant to its interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.”

He and his associates correctly recognized there is nothing wrong with a state combating voter fraud to protect legitimate civic participation.

Stephens also argued, because Indiana provides photo ID free of charge, there is no significant burden placed on an individual’s right to vote.

In Arkansas, where an ID costs $5, the same can be said. Setting aside $5 for something necessary to be a functioning member of society is not a burden.

It is paramount that elections are honest and transparent, that an individual’s vote is protected.

Far from being tools of disenfranchisement, voter ID laws actually strengthen the democratic process for both parties by ensuring that both Republicans and Democrats are sent to office honestly.


 

Zach Lott is a sophomore history major of Jonesboro.

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