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La Opinión: Voter ID Laws Supress Minority Votes

Posted: Apr 30, 2012


An editorial in Spanish-language daily La Opinión calls efforts to mandate voter ID laws an "underhanded way to achieve other objectives" -- the suppression of voter turnout of seniors, minorities and young people, those who tend to support Democrats.

There isn't any bigger waste of time than seeking solutions for problems that don't exit, unless of course, this is an underhanded way to achieve other objectives. Such is the case of the flood of state laws to stop voter fraud when an individual goes to the polls using someone else's name.

From 2008 to the present, Republican-led state legislatures have proposed and, in many cases, approved an array of laws requiring millions of individuals to show photo identification when they go to the voting booth. The Supreme Court upheld such laws affirming that states have the right to ask for these documents as part of improving their election procedures.

The problem is that many voters don't have this type of identification. One recent study by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice estimated that the new laws could harm five million voters given that 18% of seniors and 25 percent of African-Americans don't have photo identification. The organization representing seniors, AARP, has gone on record opposing these laws.

It is not a coincidence that those most affected by these laws are seniors, minorities, and many young voters, those who tend to vote for Democrats. It is clear the primary purpose of these laws is to discourage rather than encourage voter turnout. How can you otherwise explain that in Ohio, for example, they wanted to establish a law that a poll worker could refuse to tell a voter his or her correct polling location .

The fact is, this type of voter fraud is very rare. Despite repeated efforts to prove that the undocumented are committing this type of illegal voting, no cases have been found.

If a state requires a specific document in order to vote, then it must assure that all voters have it, without exception. Let's be clear though. These initiatives are not in the interest of expanding voter participation at all; rather, the intent is to put the brakes on voters who they don't want at the polls.

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