I turned 21 on Sunday. It was awesome.
To celebrate turning 21, I hit the bars with my friends and had a few drinks. To get into the bar, I was asked to show an ID to prove that I was actually of legal age—in spite of the blinking, fuzzy, pink birthday tiara and sash proclaiming my newly-acquired age. They needed real, definitive proof I was legal to enter the bar—and a sash wasn’t going to cut it.
I’ve had to show an ID at many different places: the movie theatre, Walmart, the pharmacy, airports, convenience stores, using a credit card, entering buildings in DC, filling out tax forms at work, donating blood, enrolling at school, going to the bank, and entering nightclubs. One place I haven’t had to show an ID, however, is the voting booth. This is wrong.
It’s nearly impossible to exist in today’s world without some form of photo identification. Although opponents of voter ID claim that safeguards exist to protect against voter fraud, they really don’t. Unless the person at the voting booth actually knows you (which I’ll admit is decently plausible in very small towns), there’s nothing stopping a person from saying somebody’s name and getting their ballot. I was not asked for my address when I went to vote—an address was given to me to confirm. I did not have to sign anything, which is required in some states. I could have claimed I was my mother, my neighbor, or any random name. Nobody would have known any different. The only thing the poll workers could take me on was my word. Voting is too important to trust people on just their word.
The claim that requiring some form of ID will “disenfranchise” younger voters is preposterous. In my 21 years of living, I have yet to meet a person (young or old) without some form of photo identification. I mean, every young person hitting the bars with me on Sunday had an ID! I got my first passport when I was 15 years old. My brother was 12 when he got his. A visually-impaired girl in my dorm freshman year had a state ID card (obviously being ineligible for a driver’s license). Anyone who drives to the polls has a suitable ID. Anyone who’s enrolled in college classes has a photo ID. Anyone who has a job must have some form of photo ID, or else they wouldn’t be legally employed.
Additionally, my state, Maine, is the only state in the country that uses the SAT for its standardized testing in 11th grade. What’s required to take the SAT? A photo ID. If every Maine 11th grader (or at least 93% of them by the 2010 SAT rate) can produce an acceptable photo ID for the College Board, why are opponents to voter ID continually claiming that young people don’t have them? It doesn’t make sense. The evidence is not there.
The fee for a photo ID in Maine is a whole five dollars—which isn’t breaking the bank. Heck, if you can’t afford that, I’ll personally wire you the money for it. Photo ID is required to get MaineCare—but not to vote. This is mind-boggling.
I can’t think of a rational reason why a person would be against requiring an ID to go vote—unless, of course, they plan on casting fraudulent votes. Most countries require some form of voter ID—including our neighbors to the north and south. Canada’s voter ID law is stricter than any law in the United States. Mexico has a compulsory voter ID that is issued to every citizen and serves as a national ID card. If a person doesn’t have one, they can’t vote that day. End of discussion.
Ensuring secure votes is necessary for any functioning democracy. Unfortunately, we live in a society that is more concerned with making sure people are legally able to see R-rated movies or enter bars than confirming that people are legally able to vote.