Voter ID: Deterring Voter Fraud or Legal Voters?
Over the past six years, it has been a goal of the Bush administration to crack down on voter fraud and the intentional corruption of the election process by voters. The only problem is that voter fraud, on a broad corruption scale, is virtually nonexistent. According to a Bernard College study, between 2002 and 2005 only 24 people have been convicted of voter fraud. This is a negligible amount compared to the overall voting population. Thus, contrary to some partisan conservative viewpoints, voter fraud has little to no effect on elections. Then why pursue Voter ID laws when there is seemingly so little evidence of voter fraud?
Voter ID is sought on a partisan basis as a way to suppress the poor, elderly, student, and minority vote. The supposed goal of Voter ID is to protect against voter fraud. However, in reality, it will deter more voters than it protects by mandating that voters present a government issued ID at the polls. Voter ID will ultimately disenfranchise those who are eligible to vote but do not have the proper identification. In Milwaukee County alone, 47% of African American adults do not have a valid drivers license. Statewide, 23% of Wisconsinites 65 years of age and older do not have a Wisconsin drivers license, according to a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 2005 study. This is a considerable portion of the population that would not have the opportunity to vote if Voter ID was enacted in Wisconsin, as it has been in many other states.
The purpose of Voter ID, therefore, is not to fix the supposed ‘corruption’ surrounding elections but to really disenfranchise legal voters that do not have the proper identification. The focus of the next election should not be to deter minority, poor, elderly, and student voters but to encourage everyone who is legal to vote to do so without hindrance at the polls.