How New Voter Laws Are Stealing Seniors’ Right to Vote
Posted on November 02, 2016
With election day drawing near, it is important to be
aware of voter requirements. This year, some states have enacted new laws which
hinder voting for many Americans. In 2013, the Supreme Court case Shelby County
v. Holder allowed states to make changes to voting laws.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 aimed to stop racial
discrimination in voting. It contained provisions declaring that states cannot
make changes to voting laws on their own. They must receive preclearance from
the Department of Justice before making changes. These provisions were
overturned in Shelby County v. Holder which questioned the constitutionality of
the Voting Rights Act.
Currently, states are enacting new voter laws.
Citizens are now required to present IDs before allowing them to vote at the
polling stations. There are many arguments for and against the implementation
of voting laws. Ultimately, voter ID laws hurt citizens, like seniors, instead
of protecting them.
Supporters of the Voter ID Law
According to supporters of the Voter ID Law, voting
laws are necessary to reduce voter fraud. These supporters believe that voter
fraud is a huge problem running rampant in the country. Without the creation of
these laws, they believe the election can be rigged. Criminals impersonating
the deceased, or illegal immigrants with driver’s licenses could influence the
election. Attempts to vote multiple times or in the wrong state would also be
stopped by voter ID laws.
It is argued that current voting practices aren't fair
to actual citizens. Since voters do not have to show an ID, they can commit
voter fraud. Many Americans assert that someone engaging in fraud can cancel
out an actual citizen's vote.
Since most citizens already have a state issued photo
ID, supporters argue that voter ID requirements shouldn’t be an issue. They
claim that if you don’t have an ID, it is a simple process to get one.
Supporters also maintain that driving a car or
purchasing alcohol requires an ID. They believe something as important as
voting for our country’s future should also require a photo ID.
Opponents of the Voter ID Law
Opponents of voter ID laws argue that the ability to
vote is a fundamental right for Americans. As a fundamental right, no one
should have restricted access to voting, in any way. Citizens should be
encouraged to vote, not given another hurdle to jump through.
Advocates of voter ID laws argue that these laws
reduce voter fraud. Yet, many opponents argue voter fraud is not a widespread
problem. The United States’ Government Accountability Office (USGAO) reports
voter fraud rarely occurs. In USGAO’s review of five studies, they “identified
few instances of in-person voter fraud.” This contradicts supporters' claim of
rampant voter fraud.
According to critics, getting an ID is not as easy as
advocates claim. For many citizens, getting an ID can be a hassle—not to
mention costly. Obtaining an ID may typically only cost $10-$30, but there are
indirect fees to consider. Indirect fees raise the cost of obtaining an ID.
These indirect fees include transportation costs or buying more documents to
prove your identity.
In a study by the Brennan Center for Justice, they
found nearly 1 in 5 citizens over the age of 65 do not have a current,
government-issued photo ID. This means about 8 million citizens don’t have a required
picture ID needed for voting.
The Effect on Seniors
Unfortunately, these voter laws have a negative effect
on a senior’s ability to vote. In 2008, Indiana’s voter ID law deprived 12 nuns
of their right to vote in the primary election. Those nuns, who were in their
80s and 90s, did not have the required picture IDs to vote. Although they were
registered citizens, they were barred from participating in their civic duty.
The majority of citizens prove their eligibility to
vote with a driver’s license. Many seniors don’t maintain a driver’s license or
apply for a state issued ID card. Many seniors stop renewing their licenses
because they no longer drive. This gives up their primary form of ID.
Obtaining a new ID can be difficult for seniors. Many
seniors have difficulty traveling to the DMV due to disabilities or unreliable
Once seniors get to a state ID-issuing office, there
are even more hurdles to jump through. In order to receive a photo ID, seniors
have to provide three forms of identification. One form of identification the
state requires is a birth certificate.
The requirement of a birth certificate can make
getting an ID difficult for seniors. Many people over the age of 65 lack birth
certificates, since they were born before recording births was standard
procedure. Without a birth certificate, many seniors have been denied access to
Seniors that were
issued a birth certificate, but no longer have it, end up having to pay a fee
to receive a new one. Some seniors have to travel to the county in which they
were born to receive the new birth certificate. This is difficult for seniors who
do not have easy means of transportation.
The Effect on America
Voting is an important aspect of what it means to be
an American. Allowing citizens to be
represented in their government is crucial to American values. The new voter ID
laws goes against the values America was founded on.
Advocates of voter ID laws say they’re for everyone’s
best interests. Yet, it is proven that these laws harm citizens like seniors
more than it helps. Seniors continue to fight against these laws. They are one
of the largest voting groups of the nation. Everyone deserves to have their
voice heard on Election Day.
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