Voter ID laws: Restrictive or Not
There has been a strong debate around the voter id laws. A large section of people and politicians believes that these laws are highly restrictive in nature. As per them, the most likely result of these laws will be the disenfranchisement of a large section of voting public. Indiana was the first state that enacted a voter id law. However, the Supreme Court upheld the law some two years later. There is a large section of opponents of voter id laws who specifically believe that they are targeted at discouraging a specific section of voters. According to them this section of voters generally tends to vote democratic.
This segment of voters mainly includes the elderly population, as well as the low income and minority groups. One major reason that the voter id laws are troublesome for a large segment of voters is that acquiring an id is generally a costly and cumbersome task. The cost of acquiring one can be as high as $25 in some areas of the nation. A research study showed that 10% of the voting age population lacked the necessary id. The problem can be even acute in the rural areas. It is because in these areas it is even difficult for the people to access the ID offices.
However, the law is not without its supporters. They mainly argue in the favor of the law on the basis of the voting frauds cases. Their argument is that despite being strict and restrictive, these laws prevent voting frauds from being committed. They prevent people from voting in others’ place. However, the opponents of the law are worried that the fears of voting fraud are going to restrict an important segment of population from voting. A report cites that there have been only 120 cases of voting fraud since 2007.
Based on this report, there is not sufficient evidence to show that voting frauds were a major issue before the government. Neither are they a strong enough reason to enforce the voting id laws. For being seen as a hurdle to free and fair voting, the laws are giving rise to various concerns. However, the fears have spread at a fast rate because of media. Media has played its role instrumentally in creating an environment of fear related to the laws. It has continued to highlight mainly the problems that are going to arise due if the laws are enacted.