Voter ID Laws. What Took So Long?

I'm surprised that only now, voter identification laws are making news and amazed of the swirling controversy over these new laws. A valid ID to vote is just plain common sense. I remember many years ago when I first started voting. I would wait with my driver's license in hand waiting for my turn to vote. I was sure I would have to show some identification before I was allowed to vote. I was amazed to learn that no ID was required. I thought at the time how strange it was. Anyone could vote without proving who they were or even if they were eligible to vote.

People such as myself, that want a nationwide voter ID system have been called racist and are just trying to bring Jim Crow laws back. The fact is, the the vast majority of people that support voter ID laws do so with no malice and are not trying to prevent anyone from voting. Again these laws are just common sense.


Consider this fact. There are between 12 to 30 million illegal residents in the United States. I'm not insinuating that this group is causing voter fraud issues but but I would have to guess that out of these millions there has to be at least a few thousand voting, especially as immigration issues are coming to the forefront. I was going to give examples of voter fraud but decided against doing so, as my reasoning for voter ID laws are not so much to prevent voter fraud (though of course, that would be a major benefit) but more along the lines of personal responsibility.

Why would a person need an ID to get an hotel room, but one is not needed to vote for a candidate that will govern and pass laws if elected?

Sure, the right to vote is a constitutional right and the right to vote comes with responsibility. Is it really too much to ask an individual to present a legal ID?

People take for granted how easy it is to vote in the United States. We saw the danger voters went through in Iraq and Afghanistan. More recently the “Arab Spring” showed us people were willing to be killed for the right to vote.

There is one group of Americans, in fact they our most recent Americans, naturalized citizens, that would not hesitate to take any additional steps, such as getting a piece of paper for the right to vote. They have not become complacent as most Americans have become regarding the right to vote.

Every state that has passed voter ID laws will issue a free voter ID to someone that can't afford to pay. Yes, I do understand that some hardcore homeless people (those that have been homeless for years and/or have mental issues) may have trouble providing proper identification to get a legal ID. I don't want to sound callous and I'm sure I will be taken to task for saying this, but how many of those type of people actually would vote? They are just struggling to survive day to day. Of course they do have a constitutional right to vote.

I'm unsure the type of help social services can provide for these type of people to get a legal voter ID. My opinion though, these laws would effect very few homeless people that would actually want to vote but couldn't prove their identity to get a voter ID. Of course, anyone that would want to vote should get all the help possible from state authorities to get a voter ID.

I do see a benefit though for the majority of homeless people and other segments of society that would otherwise not vote. Many states that have passed Voter ID laws including mine, Indiana, actually saw voter turnout increase not decrease. I attribute that to the fact of increased publicity surrounding the new laws.

There were massive drives by different political groups and social services to get people to realize they needed to get a voter ID to vote. I think because of these actions people that wouldn't have voted in the past became aware of not exercising their constitutional right to vote and decided they should use that right.


No system is perfect but Mexico's National ID system seems worth taking a look at. Mexican's cannot vote, board a airplane, or open a bank account without one. They are given free to each individual from the government and Mexican's say you couldn't live in Mexico without one. Of course the ACLU in the United States says a system such as this in the United States would be an invasion of Privacy. Really? How so? A national ID to prove your really you would be an infringement on your privacy? How ACLU. This great article from USA Today explains the Mexican National ID program.


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Comments 23 comments

Phoebe Pike 4 years ago

I am not in support of those new laws. The politicians who approve them have also stated that voter fraud is less than one percent... not everyone has an ID anymore. It takes WEEKS to get one if yours has expired or is lost. And that is only if you can get to the DMV on their hours. I don't know about you, but it was a major pain to get my ID replaced when my wallet was stolen. If you don't have your ID and you are a legal citizen around elections, guess what? You can't vote. A right that is yours will be denied to you.

Voting should not be limited because of less than one percent...

I understand your reasons behind it, but at the same time, I don't believe that the majority of people believe in it. In fact, I have only known one person who supported it in my area. Everyone else is appalled by the idea.

I volunteer in homeless shelters and about 80% of them vote. 15% are children and the other 5% believe their vote won't matter. Only one of them have a valid ID which will expire in December. If the ID law passes here, guess what? Only one would be able to vote. Unless you participate and help the homeless community, you have no idea how much that law will affect them.

Your percentages are also skewed... look at how many people turned 18 and then compare those numbers from the year before. Why would so few vote if so many have become of age to do so? Are they uncaring or unable? Just food for thought.


AlexDrinkH2O profile image

AlexDrinkH2O 4 years ago from Southern New England, USA

I have argued with people who are against voter-ID laws until I was blue in the face and I find their arguments to be specious and downright ludicrous. As you said, it's just common sense. For the person who wrote in the comment "If you don't have your ID and you are a legal citizen around elections, guess what? You can't vote. A right that is yours will be denied to you." - There are a LOT of things that are denied to you if you don't have an ID, that's the way it is. All voter-ID laws are designed to do is to make sure a voter is who he says he is, that's all. Look, if you believe the right to vote is to precious (as I do), than that right should be protected from fraud. And voter fraud is far more prevalent than opponents are claiming. Remember ACORN? Anyway, GREAT hub.


redwhiskeypete profile image

redwhiskeypete 4 years ago from Indiana Author

Thanks for your comment Phobe. I will take the last question first. It's been all over the news that younger people are not bothering to vote because the “excitement” Obama brought to the last election is gone. I have two teen kids and they went to Chicago to celebrate Obama winning. I can see they are not as excited now, in fact feel disappointed. That may be why kids are not bothering to register to vote.

At last count 30 states have approved some sort of voter ID law though some are more stringent then others. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_ID_laws

At least that is the majority of the states. I just can't justify an act as important as voting without an ID. Voting for an elected official to represent us is as important as it gets.


Phoebe Pike 4 years ago

AlexDrinkH2O - Actually, the ones who SUPPORT the voter ID laws have said the percentage of fraud is less than one percent... the ones against it have not made any claim to the number of non-citizens voting. I have a friend who was denied their right to vote even though they brought their birth certificates and school IDs because their ID was expired. He was turned away from the booth. How is that a "ludicrous" argument? I highly doubt our founding fathers would approve of making it harder for people to vote.

redwhiskeypete- The fact each vote is screened should be enough. The "fraud" is caught and not added. On top of that, popular vote only allows our politicians know what the general public believes/wants. They don't have to follow it. *Cough* Bush lost the popular vote and still became president. That might be why so many people aren't voting anymore. They believe it doesn't matter because the politicians will do as they please.

It's tragic, but no one is fighting hard enough to make politicians listen.

My main reason for opposing voting ID? It makes it harder for people to vote. It doesn't seem right to me. If they screen the votes and catch fraud and fix it, then why bother making people present an ID at the booths?


redwhiskeypete profile image

redwhiskeypete 4 years ago from Indiana Author

Phoebe, I understand what your saying about fraud and that is why I stated in my article I didn't want to go down that path. You and me can go round and round on this. You can bring up situions and so can I. I actually had a page of incidents of voter fraud I was going to put in my article but decided to not go that way. I'm going at this from a different angle. How can Mexico, what some would consider a third world country, have a National voter ID law but the United States can't produce one?


junkseller profile image

junkseller 4 years ago from Michigan

There isn't anything inherently wrong with Voter ID laws, but they have to be implemented in a way which is fair and doesn't disenfranchise people. You're probably right that it makes sense, in today's day and age, to have an ID, but the reality is that many people do not (estimated at ~10 percent). Keep in mind this isn't just that they don't have ID, in some cases it can be an ID without accurate information or that is expired. Getting an ID isn't as easy as some people make it out to be--especially if there is a birth certificate requirement, and especially with the short amount of time people are going to have to do it (which is no accident). For some, the ID office is more than 10 miles away. Some ID offices are only open one day a month. And some people will not know of the changes until it is too late. These types of issues represent legitimate barriers. That doesn't mean it is impossible, but it is also common sense that when you make something more difficult, fewer people will do it. These voter ID laws are virtually guaranteed to reduce turnout, which has to be weighed against whatever problem it is supposedly meant to solve: in this case alleged in-person voter fraud. Evidence, however, shows that such fraud is virtually non-existent. The State of Pennsylvania, for instance, admitted that it had never occurred in their state EVER. meanwhile they have 750k people without the necessary ID. Is it really worth potentially preventing those votes to solve a problem that doesn't exist?

That doesn't mean fraud doesn't exist. There are real problems with messy voter rolls and most major cases of voter fraud or suspected voter fraud are based on ballot stuffing, tampering with machines, or mistakes by election officials. Voter ID does nothing about these.

As for Mexico, I'm not sure that is a valid comparison. Our Federal system, with its sometimes convoluted morass of state and federal laws, is somewhat unique. I suspect that is partly, or largely, why we don't have a more robust, secure, and unified voter ID system.


Phoebe Pike 4 years ago

Mexico has a very different government system than our own. It would be like comparing Canada to Iran... it's just not going to work. Mexico also has laws where illegals are put to death...


redwhiskeypete profile image

redwhiskeypete 4 years ago from Indiana Author

Well I'm sure there wil be snags at the start of doing a National ID system. Mexcio implmented one 20 years ago so by now almost a full generation has been using a national ID. I have to disagree with you on voter turnout decreasing with these laws. Many states have had voter turnout increase after voter ID laws were passed. Indiana and Georgia are two that come to mind.


Phoebe Pike 4 years ago

Even one voter turned away is obscene.


Conservative Lady profile image

Conservative Lady 4 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

Voting is an American right as is buying a home, going to college, working for pay, getting social security that you paid for - and ALL of these should require ID. It does not disenfranchise anyone - we all have to have ID to manage our daily needs - if you are legally able to vote most what VALID reason is there for not taking your ID with you to the voting station?


Phoebe Pike 4 years ago

Conservative Lady- The college system doesn't require an ID... just social security information and financial paperwork. I never once had to show my college my ID. Not once...


AlexDrinkH2O profile image

AlexDrinkH2O 4 years ago from Southern New England, USA

Phoebe Pike - OK, let's accept the 1% figure - so, based on the total number of people that voted in the 2008 presidential election, that means that 1,223,947 votes were fraudulent!


redwhiskeypete profile image

redwhiskeypete 4 years ago from Indiana Author

I respect Phobe for her beliefs but it comes down to this. In todays world you need an idea to do almost anything. You can't even check out a book at a library with out an ID so why would we allow something as important as voting to a person that can't identify themselves? The potental for fraud is there. I live close to Chicago and know about voting fraud but then again I didn't want to make this as a fraud issue as I stated in my article. I agree with Phobe that if someone is elgible to vote then they should and the state should make every effort to help that individual get an ID but the bottom line is having a ID to vote, again, is just plain common sense.


Phoebe Pike 4 years ago

AlexDrinkH2O- Actually, I wrote LESS than one percent. The actually number they came up with was literally .01 percent.


Ken Burgess profile image

Ken Burgess 4 years ago from Florida

No I'd... no vote... it makes so much sense, only those wanting to corrupt the process could have an issue with it.


Phoebe Pike 4 years ago

redwhiskeypete- At my library, you don't need an ID to get a library card. Just saying...


redwhiskeypete profile image

redwhiskeypete 4 years ago from Indiana Author

Trusting library


Phoebe Pike 4 years ago

Kids are allowed to have library cards and they don't even have IDs. All you have to do is fill out a short notecard. That's it. Your address and phone number. Nothing more.


Phoebe Pike 4 years ago

And your name of course. ^_^


Conservative Lady profile image

Conservative Lady 4 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

Phoebe - You have to show ID to get Grants and or Loans for College and I had to show ID to purchase my student ID.


Phoebe Pike 4 years ago

I never had to show my ID for my school loans or even to apply. All I had to do was fill out a form and know my social security number. Seriously, most of the forms were on the computer and they never once saw my ID. They asked more about my bank account than anything else.


redwhiskeypete profile image

redwhiskeypete 4 years ago from Indiana Author

Phone you needed an Id to open that bank account that the library wanted to see


Phoebe Pike 4 years ago

The college wanted my bank account info. The library never asked to see my bank info.

And the bank account was opened by my sister with my name on it because I was 12 when it was opened... I didn't have an ID and she ended up getting her name off the account and I didn't show them my ID. It's not common, I know, but it's still a little funny.

Come to think of it, the only times I had to show my ID was for buying alcohol (though I don't drink... it was my birthday and the stupid wine bottle is still in my fridge) and for getting my apartment.

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