As the election season heats up, so does the debate on voter identity. One side of the issue argues that stringent voter identity laws are necessary so as not to dilute the vote of legitimate voters. The other side argues that the strict controls have the effect of disenfranchising legitimate voters.
A recent story in the Huffington Post cites examples from both sides of the argument, ultimately claiming that it appears more legitimate votes are disenfranchised than fraudulent ones prevented.
More than two dozen states have some form of ID requirements, and 11 of those passed new rules over the past two years. According to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's website, voters are required to show one of several forms of photo ID:
- Any valid state or federal government issued photo ID, including a free Voter ID Card issued by your county registrar's office or the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS)
- A Georgia Driver's License, even if expired.
- Valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of this state.
- Valid U.S. Passport ID.
- Valid U.S. Military photo ID.
- Valid Tribal photo ID.
Republicans have been the driving force behind this, claiming that in previous years convicted felons and the deceased have voted. Democrats and voting rights groups claim the ID laws suppress votes, particularly among the elderly, poor and minorities. These groups tend to lean Democratic.
In each of these cases, the numbers are not particularly high when you look at the big picture. But when you take into account that the 2000 presidential race was decided by a 537-vote margin in Florida, it’s not hard to see why this is such a hot-button issue right now.
What do you think? Are voter ID laws necessary to avoid diluting a genuine vote, or are the laws more likely to disenfranchise a legitimate voter? Tell us in the comments.