This election season has been swarming with debate over the mostly Republican-backed voter ID laws. Many states, the most famous being Arizona, have enacted laws requiring voters to show proof of citizenship in order to vote. The laws aim to keep illegal immigrants away from the polls, but a major draw back would be that the laws would unfairly target the lower class and minorities. Voting would become a privilege of the select few, not for all citizens over 18.
Historically, there have been attempts to keep certain groups of people from voting, and there are specific amendments barring such practices. The 15th Amendment gave all citizens the right to vote regardless of race, but determined southerners found a way to deny that right.
In the Jim Crow era, African Americans had to pay a poll tax or pass a literacy test in order to vote. The tests were notoriously unreasonable and the taxes would keep the lower class away from the polls. The 24th Amendment was needed to specifically abolish poll taxes and literacy tests, but the voter ID laws push for the same objectives. The now — unconstitutional poll taxes and literacy tests are designed to keep select people away from the polls.
Proponents of the voter ID laws believe that voter fraud, or non-citizens voting under the name of citizens, is a rampant problem. It is true that illegal immigration is a hot button political issue, but no sufficient evidence of voter fraud has been found. By enacting voter ID laws, members of the lower class would be forced to pay for a state issued ID with money they do not have, which is like paying to vote.
The laws have come to the U.S. Supreme Court after inconsistent rulings in lower courts. It will decide if the laws are prohibited by the 14th and 15th amendments or if there is a constitutional loop hole. It is predicted to rule sometime next year but as of right now the laws are not in place.
In our country, one of our greatest rights is the right to vote and help decide who should represent our state and country. It is important to remember that not everyone who votes has to be smart, rich or educated. Seeing the Twitter feeds come in from Monday night’s debates makes it clear that not everyone is going to make an informed decision, but the votes of all people help shape and progress our nation. People have a right to vote, and no one should be forced to buy an ID to exercise a right granted under the 15th Amendment.