Requiring Identification to Vote is Not Racist

Voter ID protects the integrity of our elections



Sen. Bill Stephens, R-Canton, looks at a sample of a proposed new secure Voter ID as the Senate takes up Voter ID legislation, SB84, House Substitute as Amended, on the floor of the Senate Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2006. (AP Photo/Ric Feld)

Nathaniel Wdowski, Editorial Board

There has been a fair amount of controversy over the past few months on the concept of whether or not the United States should require identification to vote. Some say that requiring identification is inherently racist. My question is, if requiring identification is “racist,” then would that mean liquor stores, firearm shops, airlines, and even movie theaters are racist? I had to go to Kohl’s a few days ago to pick up an online order; they asked me for identification. Is Kohl’s racist?
The 15th Amendment states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” You might be saying voting is a constitutional right; we should not need identification to vote. Voting is, in fact, a right for every American citizen who is 18 and over and who is not a felon. You also have to remember exercising a right is a privilege. Just because you have a right to something does not mean it is the government’s job to make it more accessible; otherwise, we would not have firearm restrictions.
An argument that comes up is voter identification is another way to implement Jim Crow-type laws, like literacy tests. Like, Joe Biden said, “[voter identification] makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle.” Yes, he actually said that in a press conference. The issue with this claim is Jim Crow laws relied on other laws that already discriminated against blacks. I do not know any legislation in books that prohibit any black or Latino American citizens from acquiring identification.
The truth is, according to Rasmussen Reports, the majority of whites 74%, blacks 69%, and other minorities 82% voters should show some form of photo identification before being allowed to vote. According to Project Vote, 87% of black people have confirmed photo identification, 90% of Latin Americans have a form of confirmed photo identification.
Now, one of the concerns with requiring voter identification is the possibility that it would suppress voter turnout. On the contrary, voter turnout from 2004 to 2008 increased according to the data compiled by the Secretary of State of Georgia when Georgia began to require voters who voted in person to present one of six acceptable forms of photo identification. 140% among Hispanic/Latino voters, 42% among Black voters, Compared to 8% of Whites.
Another concern I hear is that minorities cannot drive to the DMV to get identification. If that is the case, they can get identification online as well. DMV is also not the only place you can get identification. Many states have county election offices, secretary of state offices, and even homeless shelters. I would also like to point out something that people may overlook: more DMVs are in urban areas where minorities demographically tend to live, more so than rural areas, which white people predominantly populate. So if we want to address accessibility to DMVs, shouldn’t we be more concerned about white people?
The last concern I want to address is that minorities do not have access to or do not know how to use the internet, therefore they cannot get identification online. According to Joe Biden in a CNN town hall, “Not everybody in the community, in the Hispanic and the African-American community, particularly in rural areas that are distant and, or inner-city districts know how to use, know how to get online.” According to the Pew Research Center, that’s not true 80% of blacks and 79% of Latinos have a smartphone in the United States. 91% of blacks use the internet, 95% of Latinos use the internet.
Voter identification is the only thing that protects the integrity of the vote, the 15th Amendment, and the Voting Rights Act. Requiring voter identification is not racist, and I would argue it is the racism of soft expectations that blacks and Latinos are not capable of taking care of themselves and without the help of the government or other people, they will not succeed in life– I do not accept that premise. The reason for voter identification is to make sure we are protecting the votes of United States citizens, making sure that their votes and voices are heard.