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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Opinion

Voting is a right, not a privilege


The right to vote is the cornerstone to American democracy. Your vote is meant to count just as much as that neighbor you hate so much, and their vote counts just as much as the president.

Every American has the right to vote, so why is it so difficult?

Texas in particular has garnered much criticism over it’s voter ID laws, which many proponents claim are “common sense” measures to protect voter fraud.

On paper, it makes sense. If you want to vote, you just need some form of identification to prove you’re who you say you are.

The problem is, this actually leaves out a significant number of people. When Texas’ ID law was passed in 2011, it was reported that at least 500,000 people who were registered to vote in Texas could not vote because they lacked the necessary identification.

While President Obama was in Austin for South by Southwest, he said the U.S. is one of the only advanced democracies in the world that “makes it harder for people to vote.”

This is true. Voting laws disproportionately affect minorities and poor people.

If you’re an immigrant, you might not have proper documentation needed to get the proper identification. If you’re poor, you probably can’t afford the $25 fee needed to get a proper birth certificate or renew your expired driver’s licence.

These laws do nothing but place unnecessary hurdles to voting, and simply make less voters turn out to vote. It’s also a little too convenient that nearly all of the states with these harsh laws are Republican. A vast majority of minorities and poor people vote Democrat.

But what about voter fraud? That’s what the law was put in place for, anyway, right?

Gov. Greg Abbott responded to Obama’s statements by saying that voter fraud is “rampant,” and Texas is “committed to cracking down on voter fraud.”

Fact checking website Politifact gave Abbott a “pants on fire” rating for this statement.

Justin Levitt, a law professor at the Loyola Law School, Los Angeles said of 1 billion votes cast, there were only 31 confirmed cases of voter fraud. So the claim that voter fraud is “rampant” is completely false.

Some of it doesn’t make sense. Why would someone wait in line for potentially hours just so they could fake being someone to cast one single vote that probably wouldn’t make any difference? It’s just silly.

In Texas, you can’t register online. You have to physically mail in the form needed to register to vote. Also you have to send it in 30 days before election day, and if you miss the deadline you’re screwed.

It’s also a problem that election day is always on a work day. If voting is a right, it needs to be as accessible as possible.

Some states allow people to vote by mail and register online and some even allow you to register the day of voting. These are all measures meant to increase voter turnout. Texas ranks 48th in the nation in voter turnout, so why can’t we do the same?

Too many people feel politics is corrupt, and all this does is reinforce that sentiment. If you want more people to vote, make it easier for them. Don’t make it harder for people just because they might not vote for you.

Opinion editor Anthony Torres is a political science junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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