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”

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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.

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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!

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Ranked-Choice Voting: Last Politician Standing

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Ranked-choice voting works as a “last politician standing” style election. Voters list candidates in order of preference until the candidate with the majority of votes is chosen. If no candidate holds a majority of the vote then the lowest scoring candidate is eliminated and the voter’s next choice is factored into the results, this continues until one candidate wins a majority.

Check out this piece written by  The New York Times last December detailing the advantages and disadvantages of Ranked-Choice Voting.

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*)

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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!