Elections. They are the beating heart of the democratic system, the means by which citizens direct the path of their country. They must be safeguarded against fraud and deception and must not be tampered with. In this vein, despite claims of discrimination, voter ID laws are an effective tool.
The crusade for voter ID laws, coming largely from the right, has been portrayed as trying to take the vote out of the hands of minorities and the elderly. This is simply not the case. What the laws actually require is that one shows a photo ID before entering the ballot booth. That doesn’t sound catastrophically oppressive, does it? That’s because it’s not. You have to show an ID to vote. This isn’t disturbing. As long as you can prove your identity, you can vote.
The reasons for this are two-prong. If you have to identify yourself at the ballot box, that makes it far more difficult for voters to sneak in after voting and vote twice, violating the law. Second, it ensures that only legal citizens can cast a ballot, since to register for a national election you have to prove US citizenship. This ensures that only lawful citizens can vote in national elections. This is all as it should be; the Constitution only gives the vote to fully legal citizens of the US, and fully legal citizens only.
What counts as an ID varies between states (for example, some states accept job IDs while others don’t), but in most states, if an ID is issued by the government, it counts. If one doesn’t have any of those, they can also acquire election-specific voter IDs free of charge, as a tenet of any constitutionally viable voter ID law (see the 24th Amendment, outlawing poll taxes). When IDs are available for free to anyone (legal) who wants them, it becomes hard to say that they are discriminatory. Voter ID cards are free and harmless to the rights of US citizens. Simply put, voter IDs are not a danger to the voting rights of any citizen of the United States, and are a useful safeguard for the legitimacy of our elections.
For more information, go to the Indiana Election Division page concerning Indiana’s voter ID law at http://www.in.gov/sos/elections/2401.htm.