Voter ID Laws Could Keep Students From Voting in 2012 Elections

College campuses across the nation are teeming with students ready to exercise their right to vote, one of the few perks that comes with turning 18. Yet, instead of encouraging students to take part in this rite of passage, some states are imposing voter ID requirements that make it much harder for them to vote.

The fact that some Republicans see these new voter restrictions as a good thing shows their complete disregard for the democratic process. Moreover, it is demonstrative of their reasonable fear of losing the upcoming presidential election. 

At first glance, the laws do no seem that restrictive. The new laws are requiring voters to present government-issued IDs, such as a passport or drivers license. However, when considering that a significant portion of students only carry a form of student ID, it becomes an issue. Additionally, other laws being endorsed by Republican lawmakers regarding voter ID can be interpreted as prohibiting out-of-state drivers’ licenses; thus, excluding more students from being able to vote.

It is understandable that noone involved in the political arena wants to be associated with keeping people from voting. Thus, Republicans claim they are behind these laws to fight voter fraud. However, voter fraud in the U.S. can barely be called a problem. In the past years, few cases of voter fraud have even been reported. For instance, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has been pushing for ID laws based on 221 cases of reported voter fraud since 1997. That’s about 15 cases per year, and upon further inspection, many of those cases appeared to be mistakes, not malicious attempts at subverting the political process. Errors reported included parents voting for children away at college, signatures not matching those on record, and one instance of a non-citizen accidently filling out a voter registration form and not realizing she was ineligible to vote. All of this is to say that voter fraud is not a legitimate excuse for these new laws.

This past summer in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill requiring voters to have a state or federal photo ID. Despite the recent controversy surrounding the voter ID laws in South Carolina, the Texas attorney general has vowed to defend the bill, saying he is willing to fight the Justice Department all the way to federal court.

In the words of New Hampshire State Speaker of the House William O’Brien, students are “foolish” since they “vote with their feelings.” He told this to a Tea Party group earlier this year in defense of the proposed voter ID laws. He even went on to say that “Voting as a liberal … that’s what kids do.”

So if believing voting based on your own personal opinion and how you feel is “foolish,” then maybe leaning a little to the left shouldn’t be the biggest worry. 

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