On May 8th, 2014, a Wisconsin judge ruled against a voter identification law that would require people to show state-issued identification at voting polls. The Institute for Southern Studies reports that the judge found the law to be in violation of the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits jurisdictions from implementing a “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting … in a manner which results in a denial or abridgment of the right to vote on account of race, color or language minority status.” According to Southern Studies, to receive state-issued identification in Wisconsin, voters will need to present a birth certificate. However, some people do not have birth certificates, especially elderly African-Americans who were born in the rural South, where it was not common to record birth. In addition, obtaining state-issued identification such as a driver’s license is especially difficult in Wisconsin. Many Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are only open in the daytime on weekdays. However, a quarter of the DMV offices in Wisconsin are open only one day a month, and sometimes those who are looking to obtain driver’s licenses lack the means of transportation to reach the offices.
We constantly see Republican politicians in states such as Texas and North Carolina pushing for voter identification laws. These politicians claim that they push for voter identification laws to prevent voter fraud. What is voter fraud? Voter fraud occurs when voters try to impersonate someone else, in an effort to possibly cast more than one vote and give a candidate any kind of unfair advantage. But the Republicans are just using the argument of “voter fraud” as a facade for what their actual purpose for the laws. American Broadcasting Company (ABC) News reports that out of the 197 million votes cast for federal candidates between 2002 and 2005, only 40 voters were indicted for voter fraud. Of those, only 26 cases have resulted in convictions or guilty pleas. That means that .00000013 percent of total voters are convicted of voter fraud. That is such a small amount that a law protecting against voter fraud is not necessary. So what is the true motive behind these voter identification laws? Simply put, to shut out minority and low income voters. Why? Consider these statistics. ThinkProgress states that of all black voters, 87 percent identify themselves as Democrats while only 8 percent identify themselves as Republicans. Now let us look at Hispanics, of whom 61 percent lean towards the Democratic Party while 29 percent lean towards the Republican Party. Fifty percent of Asians associate themselves with the Democratic Party while 22 percent associate with the Republican Party. This is a whopping 79, 32 and 28 point gap between Republican and Democratic leanings among three of the largest minority groups in America. ThinkProgress predicts that 30 percent of voters in the 2016 election will be minority voters, while the 2020 electorate will include about 32 percent minority voters. History has shown that the minority vote is the key to winning elections. So these Republicans who are pushing for voter ID laws simply want to take these minorities out of the equation, since these laws really only affect minority and low income groups. We cannot continue to let the Republicans take out a group of voters because the party refuses to change its platform.“Voter fraud” is simply a facade to trick unsuspecting citizens into believing that voter identification laws will help resolve a so-called “problem.” Wisconsin’s ruling on voter ID is a huge step in the right direction to keep elections fair in the future.
Written by TYLER DOAN