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NC’s voter ID law is disenfranchising voters

Nick Hill, Staff Reporter

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Big changes are coming to polling stations across North Carolina, just in time for the election. Starting this year, residents will need a photo ID in order to cast a ballot in any election. Though lawmakers say the new law is going to protect the voting process, it might end up disenfranchising many voters, especially young people and minorities.

The voter ID law, which was signed in August 2013, takes effect this year. It requires all voters to show either a driver’s license, state, veteran or military identification card or a tribal enrollment card to vote.

Governor Pat McCrory signed the law saying that he was “ensuring that no one’s vote is disenfranchised by a fraudulent ballot.” Lawmakers backing the law claim that voter fraud is a real problem severely altering election results across the country, but these claims simply are not true.

Statistically, it is far more likely to be struck by lightning than it is for a ballot to be fraudulent. An in-depth study conducted by Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt from 2000 to 2014 concluded that there were only 31 credible instances of voter fraud out of 1 billion ballots cast. The chances of being struck by lightning are 1 in 3,000.

So if voter fraud isn’t common, then why have so many states passed ID laws? According to the ACLU, the real purpose behind such laws is to “make it harder for Americans—particularly black people, the elderly, students, and people with disabilities—to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot.”

“There’s nothing racist about a procedure that can help prevent people who aren’t citizens or who aren’t legally registered from committing fraud,” writes Jonathan S. Tobin for the Christian Science Monitor. It’s hard to say that these laws aren’t racist when so many minority would-be-voters do not have IDs. Researchers University of Washington and the University of New Mexico have found that both African American and Hispanics in Texas were around twice as likely to not have any of the acceptable forms of voter ID. Hispanics were 2.42 times more likely than whites to lack any acceptable form of ID while African Americans were 1.78 times more likely.

Now, the ACLU, alongside the NAACP, is suing North Carolina for infringing on the voting rights of minorities. In addition to disenfranchising Hispanics and African Americans, the voter ID law also has a damaging effect on students.

According to a 2010 study by the University of Michigan, only 69.5% of 19-year-olds have driver’s licences. In other words, about a third of all 19-year-olds would not be eligible to vote simply because they do not have an ID. While they could still vote with a veteran or military identification card, state, or a tribal enrollment card, it is unlikely a teenager would have any of those.

Now that the 2016 election is upon us, the new law will be taking effect, thus stripping many of their fundamental right to vote. Politicians are saying that the law will protect against voter fraud, but that is in no way the truth. North Carolina’s voter ID law limits the right to vote of minorities and students alike, thus silencing thousands of voices wanting to make a difference.

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NC’s voter ID law is disenfranchising voters