As campaigns gear up, citizens are starting to pay attention to the upcoming election, wondering which Republican will be the nominee or figuring out where candidates stand on the issues important to them. Yet the most important thing that American voters should do is figure out the new restrictions on their eligibility to vote in the next election. Throughout the country, Republicans have passed harsh and unjust voter restrictions that will make it more difficult for millions of people to vote, and indeed, might have already decided the election a year before it takes place.
A recent New York Times report catalogues the new voting restrictions that have been passed throughout the country this year. Wisconsin, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas have passed laws requiring voters to bring a government-issued photo ID to the polling booth. The Brennan Center for Justice has estimated that these measures will impact 3.2 million voters, and it is likely that the voters without identification will be poor and minority voters.
The measures have been passed with the stated purpose of combating voter fraud. The theory is that stricter laws will make voter fraud more challenging and thus less likely. Yet it is hard to take this argument seriously, given the impartial data that shows how rare voter fraud is: South Carolina’s Election Commission told the New York Times that they know “of no confirmed cases of voter identification fraud, defined as a person presenting himself to vote as someone he is not.” A five-year effort from the Justice Department from 2002 to 2007 found “virtually no evidence of any sustained effort to skew federal elections.” In a democracy of over 100 million voters, there will be cases when isolated individuals make errors in voting, but these are trivial statistical occurrences that do not merit a serious increase in voter restrictions.
Full Article: Voter Suppression 101 | Opinion | The Harvard Crimson.