When you look up the definition of “contradiction” on the Merriam-Webster website one of the definitions provided reads as such: “logical incongruity; a situation in which inherent factors, actions, or propositions are inconsistent or contrary to one another.” In this particular instance the incongruity comes in the form of organizers of a protest against voter ID laws requiring protest participants to provide photo ID. And exactly why was such a requirement put in place? To provide for the security of the event and of those involved.
On Saturday the NAACP led a protest march through the streets of Raleigh, North Carolina in protest of a variety of issues, one of the biggest being recently passed voter ID laws. Protest organizers posted a list of Do’s and Don’ts for the march, among them was the requirement of all participants to provide and carry with them a photo ID. This action seems entirely inconsistent with the ideology of the protest. The NAACP is one of many groups who have been arguing against the passage of laws requiring proof of identity via photo ID in order to vote on the basis that it is difficult for minorities, primarily Black Americans, to obtain photo ID’s. It seems ironic, and of course contradictory, that a group based on fighting for the rights of minorities would require people to have a photo ID in order to participate in a rally opposing laws requiring them to have photo ID’s.
The truth is that this situation only serves to further expose the ridiculousness of this argument against voter ID laws. The notion that Black Americans are somehow unable to obtain a photo ID with the same ease as people of other colors is entirely ridiculous. Especially when you consider that many states, counties and cities are providing ID’s free of charge and some are even offering transportation services to shuttle people from their homes to the local DMV or other government facility. Of course the argument becomes even more ridiculous when ones examines the laundry list of activities that require a photo ID such as buying cigarettes or alcohol, seeing an R rated movie, traveling, applying for federal or state benefits such as unemployment, disability or EBT, applying for a job, and apparently participating in rallies against photo ID laws.
Photo ID is already a requirement for such a wide array of activities that the overwhelming majority of the population has one. According to data provided by the Brennan Center, a prominent opponent of ID laws, approximately 11% of Americans do not have a valid photo ID. This is the data most commonly quoted by opponents of voter ID laws and it’s important to note that this data is from 2006 and is likely no longer accurate. According to the United States Election Project out of George Mason University, at the time of the 2012 elections there were 221 million eligible voters in America. The voter turnout rate was only 58% which means that approximately 100 million Americans who could vote did not vote. If voter ID laws were passed in all 50 states the number of people without ID would invariably drop as people currently without ID would be compelled to acquire one. When compared against the total number of people who choose not to vote in each election, the total number of people without ID would be insignificant.
Many people point to the necessity of these laws arguing that voter fraud is not rampant enough to require them. It’s true that actual voter fraud is not that common and that petition fraud is a much larger problem; however, it is still a problem. Localities continue to struggle with registration rolls that are out of date, filled with deceased voters and in some cases are downright fraudulent. Voter ID laws would absolutely help solve these problems. It must also be acknowledged that identity theft and fraud in general are increasing as evolving technology makes these crimes easier to perpetrate. One logical inference of this trend is that voter fraud will also increase. The digital voting systems currently in use are in need of replacement. New voting systems will assuredly be based on “smartphone” type technology allowing for easier voting and counting procedures. It will also become that much easier for cyber criminals to tamper with voting systems. Requiring voters to link their vote to an official, photo ID will help combat this future problem in addition to combating current problems.
At the end of the day there really is no logical argument against voter ID laws and numerous arguments in favor of them. As technology advances and more and more of our sensitive transactions are conducted in cyber space it will become increasingly necessary to take steps to safeguard ourselves and our information. One of the most sensitive and sacred transactions in which we can partake is voting for who we want to represent us in our Government. It seems illogical not to want to protect our votes from those who seek to abuse them.