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Voting is the most important thing that a citizen can do to help influence the direction of the country by having their voice be heard. Voter fraud is a serious crime that can threaten the integrity of the voting process, if it actually ever happened. The problem with voter ID laws that require a photo ID in order to cast a vote is that these laws were created to solve a nonexistent problem, photo IDs can be difficult to obtain, and these laws disproportionately prevent lower-class citizens from voting. Photo ID laws are not necessary, because photo IDs are not useful in the voting process.
Firstly, the level of voter fraud that occurs in the United States is incredibly rare to nonexistent. An article by The Washington Post that compiled different studies on the statistics of voter fraud found that “The notion that voter impersonation is a widespread behavior is totally contradicted by these data.” Lawmakers who endorse voter ID laws claim that voter fraud is some sort of epidemic all across the country that needs to be stopped, but in reality it almost never happens. In the extremely rare cases this does happen, it is usually either because of human error, or happens in local elections when the loser of a close race makes a false claim. Passing and enforcing voter ID laws is a waste of time that does not reap any benefits, and time spent trying to pass and enforce them can easily be spent doing something more important.
Furthermore, photo ID laws disenfranchise a large number of voters, the majority of whom happen to be lower classes, young adults, and minorities. According to an article by NPR, 3.2 million Americans lack a photo ID. It is also estimated that 18% of seniors and 25% of African-American voters lack identification. In order to have a true representative democracy, everyone must have a fair chance to cast their ballot. When photo ID is required to vote, this means that more voters from higher classes than lower ones will be able to vote. Excluding millions of Americans from voting just because they do not own photo identification is an injustice to their right to have a say in government.
Lastly, photo IDs should not be required to vote because they can be extremely difficult to obtain. According to NPR, in order to obtain a photo ID, one must present a birth certificate, which many senior citizens do not own because they did not usually get issued until after 1930, and to get a birth certificate you need to present a photo ID. Birth certificates are also not helpful in getting an ID for married women or people who change their name. Sometimes, offices to get identification are either closed most of the time, might only have one location in the entire state, or both. Having an ID be required to vote is an impractical law if there are many people who want to get an ID but cannot, either because they do not own the right documents or cannot commute to a faraway clerk’s office. These people truly want to contribute to democracy and voice their opinion by voting, but because of the frustrating process of trying to obtain identification, their voices have been silenced.
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