As the November elections draw nearer, the issue of voter ID is once again at the forefront of some of the most aggressive battles between political parties, often overshadowing the political races themselves.
Last week in South Carolina, testimony concluded in the state’s lawsuit against the Obama administration. The lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Alan Wilson, is an effort to stop the administration from limiting the state’s right to enact a law that would require all voters to present a valid photo ID at their respective polling places.
Similar laws in other states have been passed in recent months, sparking outcry from Democrats who see the laws as an attempt to prevent minorities (particularly African-Americans, Latinos and low-income households) from expressing their right to vote. Voter ID laws are now mandatory in 30 states, and if Democrats are to be believed, the scales could be tipped in favor of Republican candidates if minority turnout is low.
Yet in the midst of the controversy, one key point is being forgotten. Regardless of whether or not voters will have to present ID, they still have the opportunity to vote.
Republicans claim the ordinances are passed to prevent voter fraud. Many supporters of the laws have asked—and rightfully so—that if so many people need IDs to consume alcohol, why is it that much more of a challenge to require them to present an ID before voting?
Most of the 30 states that require voter ID are working to produce free IDs for those who don’t have driver’s licenses. One Congressional representative from Pennsylvania even volunteered to give rides to polling stations for those without licenses.
The right to vote is one of the foundational principles that makes the United States of America stand out as a unique nation. Yet with that privilege comes responsibility. Sometimes citizens are forced to do something inconvenient—like present an ID in order to vote—to ensure integrity and safety within the political system. It’s a small nuisance, but ultimately a necessary one.