The effects of voter identification laws
During the coronavirus pandemic, ballot accessibility for the 2020 presidential election increased dramatically and resulted in the highest voter turnout in United States history. With the use of absentee ballots by mail and access to early voting, more people of color, the disabled, the elderly and people from low-income communities were able to vote. However, the increase in voter turnout was a threat to many conservative and Republican politicians, as communities of individuals who benefited from ballot accessibility ("minority" voters) were much more likely to vote for Democratic candidates. Latino voters in particular played a key role in Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election, as there was a 30.9% increase in the number of Latino votes cast in the 2020 election compared to the 2016 election.
Due to this increase in voter representation, former President Trump began claiming that non-citizens voted in US elections and contribute to fraudulent and inaccurate election results. Of course, after much research, no evidence of fraud was found in the 2016 and 2020 US elections, and it was apparent that many politicians were making illegal voting claims to further divide political parties. After these damaging allegations began to surface in the Republican party, representatives began to encourage voter identification laws, which will impose stricter identification requirements at the polls for voters. While he argues that these laws will uphold the integrity of American elections, in reality they will only disproportionately affect voters of color. The researchers found that in the 2016 Michigan election, voters of color were 2.5 to 6 times more likely to lack voter identification as white voters, and that 70% of voters without identification, who had to sign an affidavit, they would have been Democratic primary voters. They also found that Latinos and African Americans were more likely to be asked for identification than white voters. As of May 14, 2021, 389 bills had been introduced in 48 states with restrictive provisions, most of which had been proposed and endorsed by Republican senators.
These laws that require specific government-issued identification to vote are detrimental because it is not easy for many people to obtain these identifications.
11% of US citizens, or more than 21 million Americans, do not have a government-issued photo ID. It also costs time and money to obtain, as well as transportation issues to request and obtain the documents. Voter turnout will also be negatively affected by these bills; A 2014 study found that strict photo ID laws reduce turnout by 2-3 percentage points, which can translate to tens of thousands of votes lost in a single state.
Voter ID laws are a direct threat to our democracy and could dramatically change the ability of immigrants and people of color to vote in the United States. Congress must work to ensure that these strict voter identification laws are not passed and that ballot accessibility is maintained so that marginalized voters who do not have the ability to obtain the proper forms of identification, transportation, and the financial means to voting under these laws can participate in the selection of who represents them in the country in which they reside. Not only must states issue driver's licenses to all eligible individuals, regardless of immigration status, but a citizenship requirement and a government identification status should not be a requirement to vote, just as it is not a requirement to participate in the United States Census and other forms of political participation.