Photo IDs: barriers to voting

Recent Supreme Court decision upholds controversial photo ID law in Indiana In case you haven’t heard—it’s a big election year! […]

Recent Supreme Court decision upholds controversial photo ID law in Indiana

In case you haven’t heard—it’s a big election year! Election Day is November 4th and there is no better time than the present to start getting the facts about whom you will be voting for and other important information in the election world. Access Press will help you along the way. Starting this month, and for the next six months, we will publish at least one voting article to inform you on the candidates, how to register to vote, and other related information to keep you on top of this year’s election. It is a great opportunity for people with disabilities to get involved and participate in a very important election that will affect all levels of government from federal to local. Year after year, Minnesota has proven to be a leader in voter turnout in elections. This year—let’s make Minnesota a leader for turning out people with disabilities!

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Indiana law that requires all voters to show photo identification in order to vote. Those who support the ruling argue that it makes sense to show ID when voting to avoid voter fraud. However, voting rights advocates fear this law will create more barriers to those who already face challenges to the right to vote. The costs of obtaining a driver’s license or state ID card can be considered a barrier. Among those who may face more barriers are individuals with disabilities. Since so many people with disabilities live in poverty, the hurdles to getting photo ID can create a substantial financial burden. Many view this as the poll tax of present day America which could potentially disenfranchise thousands as it did for African Americans before the Civil Rights Act.

Unlike the presence of poll taxes in history, the presence of voter fraud is unsubstantiated. Proponents of photo IDs say it prevents voter fraud. In reality, there is no evidence that voter fraud exists nor that it has ever altered an outcome of an election.

The Indiana ruling has implications for how Minnesota elections have been conducted for years. In Minnesota voters who are registered in a precinct were not required to show a photo ID. In fact, election judges were not supposed to ask for ID for registered voters. The only circumstances in which photo IDs were required in Minnesota are when a person is registering to vote in a precinct on election day.

Why create such a burden for those who are already under-represented in order to prevent something that doesn’t exist? Minnesotans can prevent what is happening in Indiana from coming here by making sure that the people who are elected into office understand that the right to vote is not conditional. It is not the same as driving or buying alcohol where showing a photo ID should be required. Voting is a fundamental right where all people should have access to equally.