AP Study Says Voter ID Laws May Disenfranchise Thousands
GOP-pushed Voter ID laws are popping up in state legislatures across the country—from Idaho to Florida—threatening to keep more and more voters from the polls. The laws predominantly hinders minorities, the elderly and young college students who typically tend to lack the necessary identification to vote.
“A lot of people don’t have a photo ID. They’ll be automatically disenfranchised," Edward Weidenbener, a World War II veteran and American citizen, whose ballot was tossed out from this year’s presidential primary due to the Voter ID law in Indiana, told the Washington Post. Weidenener's wife was also unable to vote.
A report by the Republican National Lawyers Association defended the laws, citing some 400 cases of alleged voter fraud over the past decade nationwide. That number, however, is just a third of the total number of voters purged during the 2008 general election by Georgia and Indiana--the first states to pass such a law.
Now more than two-dozen states have some sort of Voter ID legislation on the books, with 11 states passing similar rules over the past two years. Republican leaders, who say the legislation is needed to help thwart rampant fraud, have largely led these efforts.
College students, a key demographic for both parties in the 2012 election, are also likely to be affected by Voter ID laws. Many students do not have the proper identification or are not educated on the new restricting laws before going to the polls.
In 2011, Alejandra Salinas, president of the College Democrats of America summed up the issues for young voters in association with the Voter ID laws nicely: "It’s not about being a Democrat or a Republican; it’s about wanting to be able to vote."
Many recent Voter ID laws do not recognize college IDs as legitimate proof of residence, a pressing issue for students attending school away from home. Rock the Vote President Heather Smith said the legislation will have a disastrous affect on youth turnout.
“This is unprecedented,” Smith said. “State by state across the country since the 2010 elections, really throughout the past year, we have seen an unprecedented number of attempts to restrict voting rights, in particular for young voters and minorities.”
The psychological effects of Voter ID law implementation is another major concern for voter turnout, making citizens who feel they either can't be bothered or are too embarrassed they'll be turned if the try to cast their ballot.
Keesha Gaskins, who serves as senior council at the Brennan Center, is among those voicing concern over the laws. Gaskins believes that the laws will significantly impact elections in a negative way, as even a few hundred ballots can swing an election to one side or another.
“These are still people who attempted to vote and who are unable to do so,” Gaskins said. “When you compare that to the actual evidence of fraud, the difference is exponential.”
Christopher Boan is a journalism intern with Campus Progress.