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Bloggings: Voter ID Requirements, By: Danielle L. C. Beach-Oswald

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Voter id


The recent emergence of voter identification laws across the country right before November
elections is creating a stir. As the candidates discuss their sentiments on various policy
issues on the national stage, the act of voting itself has come under fire. Before voting
for the candidate that best represents one's views on issues of the economy or healthcare,
one must be able to vote at the polls.


In a nation, where less than 70 percent of the eligible voting population actually casted
its ballot during the last presidential election, any further measure to impede voting is
worrisome. People have various reasons for not voting such as belief that their vote does
not count, not having the time, or simply apathy. So when an individual finally does
surpass the obstacles and gains the courage to vote, any change in the legislation can
send them back to square one. Such a change is the recent move across the nation for
voter identification legislation which places additional requirements on the voter before
the ballot may be cast. Such legislation comes with the objective of eradicating voter
fraud. Some allege that this perceived voter fraud is nonexistent and therefore the
additional identification requirements are complicating the process.


Virginiaoffers more flexibility by allowing a non-photo identification. So valid
identification can be a utility bill, insurance payment, social security or driver's
license. Other states are much more stringent. The recent situation in Pennsylvaniais in
comparison very stringent. It is believed to be enacting one of the strictest laws in the
country. The only acceptable form of identification proposed was either a driver's
license or the Penn DOT ID or "non-driver" ID. Many are concerned that due to the
complications surrounding acquiring such an ID card, some people may not be able to get
all the paperwork accomplished before Election Day this November.


Although such laws are more likely to have been supported by Republican members, objections
still exist from both party. The common outcry among Democrats is that such legislation is
meant to disenfranchise minority voters, the poor, elderly and students; key Democratic
voters. Yet, Republicans also worry about crucial constituents in their base such as the
elderly which may also be impacted negatively by this law. The additional requirement of
having to get voter identification that they otherwise would not have may discourage their
efforts to vote. Particularly, these critical groups may not have the time and resources to
allocate their time to go through the often tedious process of acquiring this
identification. In Pennsylvaniafor example, people complained of long lines and
complications at finally receiving their voter identification cards at the Pennsylvania
Department of State.


The Brennan Center recently conducted a survey on Americans' access to identification and
discovered that 11 percent of United Statescitizens, which is more than 21 million
individuals, do not possess government-issued photo identification. Here are some of the
findings to see exactly which members of society are going to be potentially affected by
these new measures:


o 18% of American citizens age 65 and above
o 25% of African-American voting-age citizens
o 16% of Hispanic voting-age citizens
o 15% of voting-age American citizens earning less than $35,000 per year


In addition to these statistics, 10% of voters with photo identification unfortunately have
the incorrect legal name or address listed. It is evident that a substantial amount of people
will be affected by such legislation, people that may have initially been cautious to cast
their ballots. What remains to be seen is which candidate will be impacted negatively by this
phenomenon. Whether or not this percentage of the population will even matter? Is it such a
substantial concern that voter turn out will actually decline?


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