Your Vote Counts?

The goal of voter I.D. laws is to protect the principle of one person-one vote, by preventing fraud. In the Iowa Republican Caucus, Mitt Romney beat Rick Santorum by just eight votes. In elections as close as this one, the importance of safeguarding the integrity of the voting process becomes even more apparent. Until recently, most states have allowed voters to cast a vote as long as they sign an affidavit to verify their identity. Republicans have pushed for voter identification laws that require that voters present valid photo identification at the polls, but Democrats claim that such laws disenfranchise minorities. In an opinion in The Dartmouth entitled “No ID, No Vote, No Rights,” Lorelei Yang writes that the election “was a timely reminder of the importance of every individual’s vote.” Yet she fails to recognize that for each fraudulent vote cast, an individual’s legitimate vote is nullified. Voter ID laws should exist because having an ID is part of everyday life and because the voting process should be free of fraud.

Democrats are worried that such laws would restrict the ability of minorities to participate in the democratic process, but having a photo ID is necessary for many parts of everyday life. Just some of the things that require a photo ID are: obtaining a bank account, credit card, marriage license, loan, or insurance; receiving welfare, social security, or food stamps; getting prescription medicine; driving; proving one’s age; purchasing a home, automobile, alcohol or cigarettes; adopting a pet; going to college; renting an apartment, hotel room, car, or furniture; or having one’s water, electricity, gas, or cable turned on. With the Democrats’ logic, all of the activities listed above are actually discriminatory against minorities. But in that case, Democrats care less about the general welfare of American citizens and more about receiving votes. While supposed disenfranchisement in voting is unacceptable, Democrats do not worry that these people do not have access to many aspects of daily life.

In requiring voters to hold valid, state-issued photo identification, the democratic process only becomes more effective. If more members of society hold such IDs they are able to take a greater stake in the world and become involved in modern culture. Citizens should have an ID whether or not they choose to vote.

Protecting the sanctity of the vote is an electoral imperative. An accusation of fraud can tarnish the legitimacy of any election. Recent examples of voter fraud in Egypt and Russia point towards the need to protect the integrity of the electoral process. In elections decided by close margins, voters who poll multiple times at different locations could strongly skew the results. When citizens feel that their votes are being diluted by illegitimate votes, they have less of an incentive to cast a ballot.

Indiana successfully passed a voter ID law which was upheld in the Supreme Court because the state offered free ID cards to anyone who applied. With the Hoosier State’s model, everybody wins. Minorities and the poor have greater access to photo identification, which allows them access to other parts of life, and the integrity of the voting process remains intact.

Chuck Robinson