Voter Identification Laws Cheat Minorities

Drew Sheneman / MCT Campus
Drew Sheneman / MCT Campus

By: Alex Olivares

Opinion: Voter ID laws only serve to suppress voters, not prevent fraud.

It is news to no one that Latinos tend to vote for left-leaning politicians and legislation.

Gallup polls show that Latinos are twice as likely to vote for Democrats than for Republicans, and that has to do with Democrats siding with many of them on the issue of immigration. The possibility of planting obstacles in the ways of these voters serves the interest of right-wing politicians who want to keep immigrants out of the country.

Since the repeal of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which protected against discriminatory voter requirements, ID laws have become popular in conservative circles.

Republican justification for these laws claims they are a measure against voter fraud, but the rate of such crime in our nation is “infinitesimal,” according to a study by News 21, a journalism program at Arizona State University. However, minorities disproportionately lack the resources to obtain state-issued IDs, which reveals the intention of such legislation.

In districts that already have voter ID laws in effect, these laws disproportionately affect Latinos compared to whites, according to a cross-cultural study by the Black Youth Project. In the 2012 election, about 8 percent of Latinos aged 18 to 29 intending to vote in these areas lacked the “proper ID” to cast a ballot, compared to about 5 percent of whites the same age.

Many immigrant Latino citizens lack the proper documentation needed to apply for state-issued IDs, the report states. The most common papers used to apply for IDs are birth certificates, which only about 55 percent of Latinos ages 18 to 29 possess.

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Even in the case of Latinos who possess birth certificates, ID costs— as high as $27 in some states—stand in the way for many of them. In 1996, three years after the passing of the National Voter Registration Act, registration for Latinos jumped 6 percent, according to the American Political Science Association.

It credits this increase to lowered costs for voter registration. APSA looked at Latino households in the U.S. Census Population Survey.

Though it seems that these laws should only be a concern for those living in red states, residents of blue states should also be wary; voting outcomes from other states can swing the electoral votes drastically.  This could result in the election of a president and Congress that may not be the most popular choice.

Suppression is a vile act, disenfranchising not just those experiencing it, but also those depending on the votes of others to help raise their voice.

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