The Problem With Voter ID By: Liam Cummins

In the United States today, 24 of the 50 states require some form of identification in order to vote (Sullivan). Although voter identification laws may seem like a reasonable security precaution, it has a negative effect on much of the U.S. population. Over 21 million eligible voters are unable to participate in elections because of these requirements (American Civil Liberties Union). This is a problem because it is very similar to poll taxes which were set up at Southern Elections during the late 1800’s in order to prevent Blacks from voting. However, this problem is like no other. In America’s history, civil rights protests have commonly revolved around a certain group of people. Movements like the Civil Rights Movement and Woman’s Suffrage Movement are two very significant parts of the United States history. Although, they both revolve around certain groups of people, women and Blacks. The movement against voter identification laws is like no other because it has an affect on all people of the nation. It is clear for one to see why it is important to stop this problem because of its significant and unique affect on America.

The first reason voter identification laws are an issue is that they are very similar to poll taxes. Poll taxes were fines that voters had to pay in order to be apart of elections in the late 1800’s. They were most common in the South and were enforced by Jim Crow Laws. The reason many southern states had these taxes was to prevent Blacks from being able to participate in elections because most Blacks were impoverished and could not afford the price that was set. These taxes had a significant effect. In Mississippi, fewer than 9,000 of the 147,000 voting-age African Americans were registered after 1890. In Louisiana, where more than 130,000 black voters had been registered in 1896, the number had plummeted to 1,342 by 1904 (White Only: Jim Crow in America). It is clear how effective these fines were because of the drastic changes in the registered voters participation. A very similar situation is being caused by voter identification laws today. 25% of Black Americans do not have required ID to participate in elections. These two pieces of evidence clearly show the problem with voter identification laws. Although they are two different types laws, they are having the same impact. The fact that modern laws are having the same effect as Jim Crow Laws from over a century ago is abominable and is a calling for change. This generation in America is capable of eliminating these travesties.

Poll Tax From 1931

Despite voter identification laws similarities to unconstitutional laws, it’s impact is like no other. There have been many unjust laws in the history of the United States, but none have had an impact like voter identification laws. For example, women not having a right to vote had an affect on one group of people, women. Another example is segregation and Jim Crow Laws which were laws that affected African-Americans, one group of people. These laws brought violence to African American People. It is estimated the Ku Klux Klan lynched 3,446 Blacks in 86 years (CNS News). Voter identification laws are quite the contrary. These laws have made an impact on all types of all people of the United States. A graph from Scholars Strategy Network shows this effect. The graph depicts the voter turnout for all races based on the severity of the voter identification requirements. For all races, the voter turnout decreased by at least 20% by the time the graph reaches the most stern level of identification requirements (Scholars Strategy Network). The singularity of this issue shows why it is a problem because it has never been faced in America before. This makes it a problem because it is much larger than other issues the United States has faced and has to be tackled on multiple fronts. It is time to take action against this unjust institution.

It is up to the generation of today. A violation of people's First Amendment shall not stand. Fortunately, there is a lot people can do today to help. One thing people do is join the ACLU’s Resistant Movement Against Voter ID Legislation. The ACLU has led protests against voter identification laws in in states such as Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Wisconsin, and North Carolina (ACLU). Citizens should also participate in the NAACP Moral March On Raleigh. This is an annual event. This year, they demonstrated against the recent legislation of voter identification laws in North Carolina (NAACP). There are smaller things people can participate in as well. Writing your local representative, social media posts, or sharing information with a friend. All of these actions can help eliminate these intolerable laws, something that must be done. In conclusion, it is a necessity that these laws are swiped from this nation. Oppression does not belong in the United States. It is time to take a stand.

Works Cited

"KKK Lynched 3,446 Blacks in 86 Years – Abortion Claims That Many Black Babies in 'Less Than Four Days'." CNS News. N.p., 16 May 2013. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

"Oppose Voter ID Legislation - Fact Sheet." American Civil Liberties Union. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.

"Redirect Notice." Redirect Notice. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

"Strict Voter Identification Laws Advantage Whites – and Skew American Democracy to the Right." Strict Voter Identification Laws Advantage Whites – and Skew American Democracy to the Right | Scholars Strategy Network. N.p., 01 Mar. 2017. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.

Sullivan, Sean. "The Country’s Voter ID Laws, in 1 Map." The Washington Post. WP Company, 26 Mar. 2013. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.

"Voter Fraud Is a Myth. Voter Suppression Is Not." NAACP. N.p., 25 Jan. 2017. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.

"White Only: Jim Crow in America - Separate Is Not Equal." Smithsonian National Museum of American History Behring Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.


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