After Republicans scored major victories in state legislative elections across the country in 2010, they embarked on an ambitious legislative agenda on a whole host of issues. One of the most prominent agenda items in state after state has been the adopting of new laws requiring voters to present some form of identification at the polls before being allowed to vote. Opponents argue that these laws tend to discriminate against older and minority voters, some of whom may not have the types of identification required by the law, may no longer have access to the documents such as birth records that would allow them to obtain such identification, or may not have the resources to get that identification because of difficulties that some states have placed on obtaining identification. Proponents of these laws, on the other hand, maintain that they are necessary to prevent voter fraud, presumably in the form of people showing up at the polls claiming to be someone that they are not. This is really the only form of voter fraud that requiring identification at the polls could possibly combat.
It is, admittedly, a compelling argument. After all, people should not be permitted to impersonate someone at the polls. However, it has never been clear just how much of a problem this form of voter fraud actually is. Proponents would lead one to believe that it is a major problem that threatens the integrity of our electoral system, thus requiring strict identification requirements. Opponents, on the other hand, have long contended that Republicans have long overstated both the frequency and risk of in-person voter fraud and that, when balanced against the difficulties it presents for those negatively impacted by the laws, it is at best a minor problem.