Voter ID and Registration

Cathy Yu, Guest Writer

Cathy Yu

Some say that Trump voters are problematic and others say that Hillary voters are problematic. However, the real problematic people are the ones who don’t vote at all.
Despite all of the advertisements on social media to get
people to vote, the U.S. has the lowest voter turnout of all Western Democracies at about 60%.
This can be a problem because it means our democracy is not truly representative of the people’s needs. The U.S. is often considered a “melting pot” because it is such a diverse country. With that being said, our government should be representative of our diverse population. Today, the most effective way to express your opinion is through voting, whether it’s local, state, congressional, or presidential. If only a certain number of people vote, the outcome of the election may represent the wishes of the few who voted instead of the overall consensus of that community.
For example, old people tend to vote more than young people, which is why social security and medicare are always on the political agenda. Since strict voter ID laws and registration systems are the main reasons why people don’t vote, they are the first issues that need to be addressed.
Voter ID laws should be less strict because requiring a government-issued photo ID puts the elderly, people living in poverty, and certain minorities at a disadvantage.
A government issued photo ID can be difficult to obtain for many reasons; a lot of people who live in big cities like New
York and LA don’t even own a driver’s license because they don’t need to drive (they instead walk, take the subway, taxi, or Uber). Additionally, a lot of people make up their minds about the election within 5 days of the voting deadline because they feel a sense of urgency.
It’s hard to get a government issued ID in that brief time. When I passed my driving test and filed for a license, it took the DMV two months to mail it to me.
Requiring a government issued photo ID can be discriminatory against low-income residents; voting is a fundamental right for all U.S. citizens, not a privilege. One could argue that paying for an ID to vote is similar to literacy tests or poll taxes required before the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Depending on the state, an official ID may cost anywhere from $8-40, which is something that some low-income families simply cannot afford. If we didn’t require, voter ID, it would definitely increase voter turnout in big cities, certain minorities, and people living in poverty.
Voter registration is just as big an issue as voter ID. States that only offer early registration or registration by mail tend to have lower voter turnouts because people don’t feel the urgency to vote until the very end when it’s too late, or they are just too lazy to mail their registration. Minnesota has one of the easiest voter registration systems. In fact, voters can even do same day registration and online registration is also available. Not surprisingly, it has the highest voter turnout in the U.S.–76% in the general election in 2012.
Oklahoma requires residents to download and print registration forms then mail them to the state election board. Oklahoma enjoys voter turnout of 49%.
One could argue that strict voter ID laws will prevent voter fraud, but the actual numbers of voter fraud are incredibly low and always not enough to influence the election. People, especially conservatives, are concerned that voters will impersonate a fake citizen, or even a dead citizen, in order to vote, or even vote twice (an Iowan was the first vote fraud arrest in this election when she tried to vote for Trump twice). When vote fraud was examined in Texas there were 51 convictions in a decade, but only 4 of these were related to voter impersonation, which is the only type of fraud that voter ID laws protect. Nationwide that rate of voter impersonation is even lower.
Out of the 197 million votes cast for federal candidates between 2002 and 2005, only 40 voters were indicted for voter fraud. Only 26 of those cases, or about .00000013% of the votes cast, resulted in convictions or guilty pleas.
In this upcoming election, rest assured that the election is not rigged and that voter fraud is incredibly rare; your vote CAN and WILL make a difference.