New photo voter id card laws could block the college student vote in 2012
Thousands of college students on campuses across several states will be surprised to learn that recent voter id card laws have made their college ID and out-of-state driver’s license no longer acceptable for registering and voting. Unable to register to vote, these students will not be allowed to cast their ballots in this year’s elections.
Over half-a-dozen states have already passed strict laws requiring a government-issued photo voter id card if students do not already have certain types of official id, like an in-state driver’s license or a US passport. Over two dozen other states have plans to implement the same voting restrictions. Unfortunately, a great many college students will not have the time, money or resources to obtain such identification in order to register and vote.
Some civil liberty groups see these photo voter id card laws as voter suppression: an attempt to restrict the votes of groups that traditionally vote Democratic, such as African-Americans, Hispanics, the poor, elderly and young adults who, as a demographic, are more likely to be without government photo IDs.Supporters of these laws claim that they are not trying to block voters, but that tougher voter id laws are needed to prevent voter fraud. But the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law produced “The Truth About Voter Fraud”, one of the most extensive investigations of claims of voter fraud. This report found that most charges of voter fraud turned out to be baseless. And the few that were not, were actually election irregularities and other types of polling station misconduct, rather than actual fraud by individual voters. “The type of individual voter fraud supposedly targeted by recent legislative efforts — especially efforts to require certain forms of voter ID — simply does not exist.”
Young college-age adults should be encouraged to take part in the most basic of American democratic functions. Unfortunately, lawmakers in many states are trying to block students from voting in the 2012 elections. Some of these politicians may be doing so to protect political hierarchies, or to protect against what they claim is serious voter fraud. But drastic restrictions on the next generation of voters threatens the future protections of American democracy itself.