Kyne: Voter ID laws fundamentally undemocratic

With every presidential election comes a massive push to get people out to vote, especially young people, with programs such as Rock the Vote working to make voting easy and accessible.

With this election, there has been another type of push in the form of voter identification laws and altered poll hours. Such actions do not protect anyone or anything; this is voter suppression, and it needs to be stopped.

When it comes to voter ID laws, the blatant lack of voter fraud cases is the first cause for suspicion. From 2002 to 2007, former President George W. Bush’s administration investigated voter fraud in America and found a total of 86 cases.

If voter fraud were a huge issue in this country, I would agree that such laws could be justified. That is not the case, which leaves me wondering: Why? Why are we wasting our time and money on this cause? It is because one side wants to win, and is okay with altering the system in order to do so.

When you look at who these laws affect, the true motive behind such legislation becomes clear. Eleven percent of the population – including the elderly, minorities, students and the poor – does not have government-issued identification cards.

According to Huffington Post, about “700,000 young minority voters could be barred from voting in November because of photo ID laws.”

Students are being shut out too; less than 3 percent of Wisconsin college students’ driver’s licenses list their current address. Voting is a right, and the fact that this right is being taken away from some cannot go unnoticed. This reeks of discrimination and attacks groups that played a significant role in electing President Barack Obama in 2008.

While numerous states have set up ID laws, the fact that many are incredibly obvious about whose vote they are trying suppress has not gone unnoticed or without consequence. In Texas, a three-judge panel stated that the voter ID law put “strict, unforgiving” requirements on the poor.

There have been other actions taken on these discriminatory measures. In Ohio, a federal judge ruled to restore three days of early voting before Election Day and stated that early voting restrictions had been set up as “arbitrary.” It was noted that, in 2008, around 93,000 Ohio citizens voted during that early voting period. A study done in Franklin County Ohio showed that 31 percent of its early votes came from black voters.

In Florida, a three-judge panel blocked a new rule that would have cut early voting by almost half in five counties. Not only were the hours set to be cut, but the polls were also to be closed on the Sunday before the election. This was an obvious attack on black voters, as many black churches have previously held Souls to the Polls campaigns for Sunday voting.

We cannot overlook the fact that these laws and alterations are occurring in swing states. They are a direct attack, and while there has been movement against these acts, there needs to be a larger outcry. Suppressing votes based on demographic cheats the American voting system.

To those who push for strict ID laws, is your party so weak that it has to cheat? You’re insulting yourself and your party’s integrity. Try figuring out what’s threatening your chance of winning instead of wasting our time and money. Don’t hide behind an imaginary problem.