Voting rigged against minorities


Abby Kempf

Art by Ana Ramirez
Many seniors had their first experience voting Mar. 15. Fresh-faced 18-year-olds wandered into their precinct’s polling place and nervously handed a voting official their driver’s license. The official smiled and ushered them to either the electronic or paper voting area.
It doesn’t seem like a big deal to hand someone your ID. Everyone goes to the License Bureau when he turns 16 and smiles awkwardly in his first ever driver’s license picture, right?
Well, not everyone.
A teenager living in poverty has many obstacles in the way of obtaining an ID. His parents work late. The teenager himself works, takes care of his siblings and struggles to complete homework.
Besides, even if the teen managed to get a ride to the License Bureau, most poor families don’t have the spare cash to splurge for an unnecessary photo.
Identification isn’t universal. Not everyone has the opportunity to get an ID. But, everyone should have the right to vote. Yet, that is not always the case.
In Missouri, if a voter does not have an identification photo he or she can only cast a ballot if at least two election officials attest that they know him/her. What an antiquated law. Unfortunately, Missouri is no longer only populated by farmers who know everyone else in their two-horse town.
The Brennan Center for Justice published a headlining study in 2012 that measured the effect of harsher voter registration laws and ID laws passed earlier that year.
The study claimed that more than 5 million Americans would be affected by the changes. This number is larger than the victory margin in recent presidential elections.
A later study showed that states which required photo IDs to vote had a voter turnout of two points lower than other states. Examining who the nonvoters are begins to paint a picture of inequality.
According to the Center for American Progress, 34 percent of nonvoters are younger than 30 years old; 70 percent are younger than 50. Meanwhile, 43 percent of nonvoters are Hispanic, African American or another racial minority and 46 percent of nonvoters have family incomes of less than $30,000 a year. 54 percent of nonvoters have not attended college.
It is completely clear that voter ID laws alienate the poor, the minorities and the young. Many elections could have turned out very differently if everyone truly had the right to vote.
Disparity and equity are some of today’s biggest buzzwords, yet America has, for the most part, glossed over this stain on the face of equality.
Republicans do not even attempt to cover up their loathe for democratic votes. They have vehemently fought any reform on voter registration laws that would allow more citizens to carry out their civic duty. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), current Republican presidential hopeful, said “That’s just more votes in the Democratic Party,” explaining why he is against statehood for Washington D.C..
In fact, the 2012 Republican Party platform states, “Honest elections are the foundation of representative government. We applaud legislation to require photo identification for voting and to prevent election fraud, particularly with regard to registration and absentee ballots.”
While conservatives fret over voter fraud, which U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman declared virtually nonexistent, would-be-voters are having their constitutional privilege to vote stripped away.
When registering to vote, people have to give their name, address, social security number and other identifying information.
If someone could register — which in Missouri you can do by mail just as everyone must do to pay their utility bills — and then use the registration card instead of an ID, everyone would be able to vote and those who are paranoid about voter fraud could have their worries soothed.
Now is the time to fight for equality. With a momentous election just around the corner, now is the time to call your representative and demand that the right to vote is secure for every member of this nation.
Don’t just claim you are moving to Canada if Trump wins. Ensure the marginalized, alienated groups the right to vote and be a part of one of the most integral and important processes of a free nation.