In February 2010, one of my roommates had the misfortune of hearing that his basement had flooded. In it, his parents had stored many of his personal legal documents, including his birth certificate and Social Security card. After successfully getting a job, he was required to present his employer with multiple forms of identification.
Possessing only a driver’s license, he had to send away for the other supporting documentation. It’s easy enough for an American citizen to do so, not factoring in the time, money and hassle of getting the documents. In the time being, however, we all joked, “You’re illegal!”
Paper identification is an unreliable method of proving who is who, but it is unfortunately the most popular method we have. All kidding aside, my roommate might as well have been a non-person in the eyes of his employer and the formal labor economy, which cannot be entered without some type of valid — or fabricated — identification.
So why do states insist on requiring their citizens to present “valid” forms of identification to vote? According to South Carolina State Sen. Brad Hutto (D), quoted in a May 28 New York Times article, “Republicans have to have some reason to do this because it doesn’t sound good to say, ‘We don’t want Latinos or African-Americans voting.'” But that can’t be the only reason, can it?
… According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, 33.1 percent of licensed drivers are aged 18-29. According to the Pew Research Center, of the people in this age group, an overwhelming 66 percent voted for President Barack Obama in the 2008 election. Statistically speaking, this group has the largest number of licensed drivers of all age groups.
However, college students represent only 12.6 percent of the licensed population, which, according to a Jan. 24 article in The Washington Post, is because teenagers don’t get their licenses at the golden age of 16 because, well, they don’t want to (too much Facebook).
Not counting Obama’s mobilization of the youth population in 2008, youths have, historically, been an apathetic voter bloc. I think Republicans are implementing the perfect strategy to keep us away from the voting booths. If I hadn’t already spent hundreds of dollars and hours getting my driver’s license, and I was told I had to take a bunch of documents to the Motor Vehicle Association to get a photo ID to vote, I’d just as soon get a fake and go to Bentley’s.