How Voter ID Laws Affect Democracy

Voter ID laws are damaging the decades of progress that have
Voter-ID-Nick-Anderson been made on our democracy and voting rights in the U.S. Up to this date, 33 states require some type of ID in order to vote, and 7 out of those 33 states have strict photo ID laws. Some outcomes of these laws are; voters are deprived of their right to vote, they reduce voter turnout, and they go against the fundamental ideas of a democratic process. Not surprisingly the voters that are affected by ID laws are  racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, people with disabilities, and low-income citizens. Such voters usually have a hard time getting IDs, because they cannot afford or cannot get the documents they need to get an ID.

It is known that 11% of U.S. citizens (more than 21 million Americans) do not have an ID and getting and ID costs money. Even if IDs were offered for free, people have to pay for other documents such as birth certificates, transportation, time off work, etc.  Another fact about ID laws is that it reduce turnout by 2-3 percentage points, which means thousands of lost votes.

On the other hand, up to 25% of African Americans do not have an ID, compared to the 8% of whites. And minority voters are more likely to be asked for ID than are white voters. Also it is know that Voter ID laws reduce turnout among minority voters. According to a Washington Post study, ID laws have a negative effect on turnout among minorities.

“In general elections in non-strict states, for instance, the gap between white and Latino turnout is on average 4.9 points.But in states with strict ID laws, that gap grows to a substantial 13.2 points. The gap between white turnout and Asian American and African American turnout also increases”

Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 10.59.58 PM

According to a study done by the University of California these laws come with political consequences. Since minorities tend to vote Democratic, states with ID laws are more likely to get a higher Republican turnout.

“All else equal, when strict ID laws are instituted, the turnout gap between Republicans and Democrats in primary contests more than doubles from 4.3 points to 9.8 points”

Such laws seem to be gaining momentum and more states are passing such laws. Even if the voter ID laws are somehow funded by the states, some people will inevitably face obstacles in the process of getting the required documents they need to get their IDs. Due to this obstacles and others, many Americans may be discouraged from voting just because they wont have the proper ID or just cannot get the proper ID.

Color-voter-ID-laws

Fortunately there are non profits and state run organizations ready to help you. For example, VoteRiders is the only organization that focuses exclusively on voter ID. They help low income people, minorities, and everyone in need of help to get an ID and get you to the polls!

lead_960

Advertisements

Popular Vote it is!

Several democratic nations around the world have adopted some type of electoral system. The purpose of an electoral system is to calculate the number of votes at the end of an election in order to choose positions in a particular government.

There are several electoral systems used around the globe; in the United States for example, the electoral system used is called the Electoral College. The Electoral College is made up of “electors” (members of different parties), the number of electors a state has is determined by a census. (The 2012, 2016 and 2020 elections are and will be based on the 2010 census*)

bkbkbkj

The number of people a state has determines the number of electors representing a certain state in congress (House and Senate). So, in other words we can say that, the more people a state has, the more electors or electoral votes it represents in the Electoral College. (In order to win an election a candidate must accumulate a majority of 270 electoral votes*)

The 2016 presidential election made many who are against the results challenge the old but current electoral system. For many the Electoral College is decrepit and inefficient for modern times. Even though not many countries follow the popular vote, some follow a similar type of popular vote called the Two-round system, as the title explains it, the two round system is made up of 2 rounds of popular votes, during the first round the candidates with the lowest percentage are eliminated and all remaining candidates stand for the second round and the candidate with the highest percentage wins.

According to the The Huffington Post a popular voting system or/and a two-round system would make many people who live in states with a low and high concentrated population feel like their voice matters!

Voting Accessibility: Time Stands Still for No Man!

Voting is one of the key components to a democracy. Knowing that, you would think it would be an easy and smooth process to go out and vote. According to an article on Americaprogress.org in North Carolina African American voters haElection_Day__Polling_location_problems_0_49343350_ver1.0_640_480d to wait two hours due to technical difficulties.

This led to less voting participation and thus low voter turnout. Let’s not forget, voting takes place on a weekday. Even if it’s for most of the day, it’s still a weekday. Meaning that young adults have classes to attend to and/or work, and the older population 25-40 have work to attend to. People don’t have all day to wait in line to vote and thus end up not voting in all. Accessibility to voting polls is an issue in the United States that should’ve been taken care of years ago.

Also according to Americanprogress.org in North Carolina there were 158 less polling places in 40 counties. If people not only have to risk being late to work/school waiting in long lines but also have to travel longer distances to get to a polling place, what makes you think they’ll go in the first place. Voters can’t all risk calling off work or/and school to stay in line for hours and vote. Let’s not forget what happens when the machines malfunction and cause a polling place to cease it’s activates until fixed. Polling places shouldn’t be harder to get to than your local DMV/MVA and should be an easier and smooth process. These annoyances to quick and/or easy voting accessibility play a part in the over voter turnout and the will to want to participate at all. We need to make more polling places easily available and make the overall process more efficient. This way all eligible voters have an equal opportunity to get to the polls and have an easier time gaining access to the polls.

rs-246185-voter-registration-laws-election-2016

Voter Apathy: One Giant Leap From Democracy

4911169213_e1a6d20309_o

For a country of the people, by the people, and for the people, the United States has a problem with getting the people to vote. In a PEW Research study conducted last August, the United States ranked 31st out of 35 countries in voter turnout. Although, according to Daily Dot, voter turnout was higher in the 2016 election than in 2012, with 59.7% of Americans going to the polls compared to 58.6% in 2012. This past November, 40.3% of eligible voters opted out of the process. That’s hardly an increase to write home about.

One of the most troubling causes for a low voter turnout is voter apathy. Voter apathy has best been seen during the midterm elections when the voter turnout drops faster than a lead zeppelin. Only 36.4% of eligible voters went to the polls in the 2014-midterm elections. The lack of engagement is one of the reasons that a Congress with a 10% approval rating can have a 90% incumbency.

When elected representatives are this widely reviled, but are being voted in because one third of the country cares to vote them in, then society has a problem. A problem where the views of the public aren’t being represented, because they choose not to take the action in order to change the problem, is a willful step away from democracy. This poses a threat to democracy because without an accurate metric of where a citizenry stands on socio political issues politicians cannot, and will sometimes choose not to accurately represent the interests of their constituents.

When the people choose not to go to the polls, they choose not to use their voice. If their voice isn’t represented by a party or by a politician, citizens have the option to write in a vote that represents their political views. Ultimately this right is the difference between choosing your politicians and your politicians choosing for you.

vote-1286584_1280