Our country’s history is a long struggle of expanding voting rights to every citizen.
Suffragettes and civil rights advocates fought to have access to the ballot box. The promise of the Constitution — that every person has a voice in choosing his or her government — must be guaranteed to all.
However, today we face new problems that are limiting many people’s ability to vote. Photo identification is one such problem, and it should not be required, because it is discriminatory.
The 15th Amendment clearly states, “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
This, as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965, made voting more accessible for every citizen.
But requiring a photo ID makes voting more difficult for specific groups of people who tend not to have a drivers license or state ID: senior citizens, college students, people without a stable address, low-income adults, people in large cities who don’t drive, and especially minorities.
Up to 700,000 minorities would be unable to cast a ballot in the election because of the ID requirement.
Also, imposing new ID restrictions can cause unexpected complications.
A judge from Texas who had voted for 52 years was not able to vote because her maiden name on her voter registration did not match her driver’s license. She and 34 percent of women voters could experience similar issues, putting their ability to vote at risk.
It would be possible for someone like an elderly woman, who may have been alive for the passage of the 19th Amendment, when women were finally allowed to vote, to suddenly be denied the right to vote for lack of a photo ID.
There is no justification to disenfranchise so many voters.
There are other alternatives that make voting accessible to everyone.
For example, signature comparison is a better solution.
Poll workers compare the registration signature against a live signature at the time of voting.
This method could eventually be done electronically and be even more accurate than photo recognition. Advocates of photo ID claim that photos are a perfect solution to prevent voter fraud and make voting easier.
However, voter fraud is not actually a problem. A study from ABC News showed that out of the 197 million votes cast between 2002 and 2005, only 40 people were found guilty of fraud.
Photo identification laws are discriminatory because they affect specific groups of people.
Voting is a right for everyone, not just those with a photo ID.
The vote is the voice of our democracy; we must protect that voice and keep it strong.
America has come too far from the days when we excluded people’s vote because of race, gender, or class. We must not go backward.
To continue to form “a more perfect union” we need to use our American ingenuity to make voting equality a reality for all.
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