Voting just got that much easier

Federal judge striking down Voter ID law is a step toward civic justice

Bast is a senior journalism major and News Editor of The Spectator. Bast can be reached at [email protected] or @Katie_Bast.

Story by Katie Bast, News Editor

When I went to cast my vote in the local election April 1, I had to re-register with my new address. I presented my driver’s license and a letter from my bank.

Since it wasn’t a bank statement, it wasn’t considered a valid proof of residence. After logging into my online bank and showing the account number matched the one on the letter, the poll workers finally gave me a ballot.

On Tuesday, a federal judge struck down the voter identification requirement. This is a move in the right direction. The law states voters must present a state-issued photo ID before voting.

Many believe this law targets low-income and minority voters who may not have easy access to such documents.

In my case earlier this month, the process of registering (or re-registering) is different and more extensive than just voting. One isn’t required to prove their residence every time they vote and if I were to vote again at my current residence, it would be much easier.

The problem this poses for college students is that many rarely live at the same residence for more than a year, let alone from one election to the next. Having to re-register every time we vote creates unnecessary roadblocks.

But this year was not the first time I’ve almost been prevented from voting.

When I registered to vote the first time and attempted to vote in the 2012 presidential election, a clerical error left me scrambling to right the situation.

After almost an hour of signing papers at city hall and printing documents at the library, I got to vote. This tells me there’s much more wrong with the way elections are run.

The fight over Wisconsin’s voter ID law has been a long one. Former Gov. Jim Doyle resisted passing legislation requiring voters to show ID three times between 2002 and 2005.

Wisconsin passed the Voter ID requirement in 2011, but in 2012, a Dane County judge declared it unconstitutional.

We all have a basic constitutional right to vote. It’s crucial we protect this right so informed, passionate citizens can voice their opinion at the polls.

According to the Government Accountability Board for Wisconsin, enforcing the voter ID law is the same as applying a condition to vote. Like say, owning land, having a grandfather who could vote, passing a literacy exam or being a man. The Constitution does not allow such impediments to voting. Enforcing this law would quite literally be repeating past mistakes.

Republicans rationalize Voter ID laws by saying requiring a photo ID cuts down on voter fraud and strengthen the integrity of elections.

However, there’s not enough evidence to prove major voter fraud, and improving the way elections are conducted (i.e. the electoral college) would do much more to boost the integrity of elections.

Most voter fraud accusations are baseless and the rules in place only made it more difficult for me, a law-abiding, politically involved citizen to cast my vote.

Clearly, our voting system is flawed, but attempting to exclude certain groups from voting isn’t the way to fix it.