The 2000 Presidential election and its 500-vote margin, has proven to the American voters that every single vote has the potential to alter an election result. Outcries of voter frauds and manipulations have been omnipresent in nearly every major elections from both sides of the aisle.
Such ridicule is much less seen in countries and regions that require voter identification before vote casting: all of the 3 countries that top the chart in the Democracy Index 2020 (Norway, Iceland & Sweden) all have voter ID laws in place.
Voter ID laws are fair, affordable and necessary, and there’s no need to politicize them. They provide a concrete foundation for democratic institutions to rely on and survive upon, most significantly in curbing election fraud and allows for fair competition.
Keeping illegal ballots out
Meanwhile, the legislation of voter identification laws in the U.S. has become a heated debate with strong partisan touch. Republicans believe that such legislation would enhance democracy by adding credibility to election via the prevention of election rigging. Democrats on the other hand, claim that such legislation is “discriminative” against the elderly, minorities and underprivileged.
Amongst 35 states with photo or non-photo ID requirements upon in-person vote casting, a vast majority (71.4%) of these states are traditionally Republican, with Democrats takes up the remaining (28.6%). There is a strong Democratic obsession against voter ID law legislations, often by equating the laws with discrimination.
It’s not difficult to see why. By 2019, the two ethnic groups took up 32% of the blue party’s support base, a 45% increase than in 1996. Votes, of course, but are they even legal?
Hans von Spakovsky describes photo ID requirements as a basic requirement in securing electoral integrity. In his 2012 article, he writes that fraudulent votes should not “dilute” the votes from legitimate voters, citing Supreme Court rulings that the risk of fraud in elections is real, and that it could “affect the outcome of a close election”.
Having gone through the 2000 Bush v. Gore court battles and 2016 fraud accusations, it speaks for itself how a couple of voter frauds could hinder the legitimacy of a costly election.
Every illegal vote steals or dilutes the vote of a legitimate voter.– Hans Von Spakovsky, The Heritage Foundation (2012)
America has a long history of opening its arms to illegal immigrants. As a result, by 2014 the population of these illegal residents was at a jaw-dropping 12.1 million, taking up nearly 4% of the U.S. population. While not all of them can take part in shaping the U.S. political landscape, states without a voter ID law is exposing themselves to this evitable and unnecessary risk of depriving the rights of honest and registered voters.
Truth hurts – not the turnout
Voter ID law does much more. It also prevents impersonation of deceased voters, double voting, and other kinds of election fraud. Even if the frauds may not be statistically significant, it is still necessary for a democratic institution to curb all fraudulent intentions from disrupting the credibility of election results.
The Democrats have also been constantly exaggerating the “discriminative” side of such legislations. They claim that it makes the ethnic minorities, as well as the old and poor, more unwilling to vote. That is, once again, proven untrue.
Study by professors of prestigious institutions including Stanford, Chicago, Pennsylvania and Princeton University, challenges such claims with concrete analysis and evidence. This study from 2017 yields “no firm conclusions” on the correlation between strict voter ID laws and turnouts, and finds “no definitive relationship” between tougher ID laws and a drop in minority turnouts, including those of Hispanics and blacks.
It is echoed by a 2019 article by the Heritage Foundation, as Spakovsky and Morrison quote from a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, which unsurprisingly finds that “voter ID laws have no measurable impact on voting behaviour”.
No burden for the state, nor for you
Kris Kobach, former Kansas Secretary of State, wrote in his opinion piece that photo IDs are becoming “ubiquitous and unavoidable”, and that a photo ID requirement is not a big ask given the importance of voting rights as part of citizenship.
A proper government-issued identification is something one could barely live without. You need it for banking, transportation, beer, hospital, checking in, etc. It’s honestly not a formidable task for someone to bring it along, not to mention obtaining one.
It’s part of a duty and proof of citizenship. For someone without such identification, I would doubt how much sense of belonging he or she would have on the community, not to mention the state or country. Citizenship provides people with benefits such as civil rights and welfare, but it also comes with responsibilities. Not a particularly formidable task to at least obtain a proof of citizenship, aye?
In Hong Kong, despite recent years of political turmoil and distrust with the executive branch, the opposition has almost never put up claims of election fraud or manipulation, thanks to the city’s rigorous procedures that verify the identity of voters.
In fact, Hong Kong may very well be one of the most rigorous in terms of identity verification, as apart from routine law enforcement, investigations on potential “vote-planting” (a form of vote-rigging by filling in false addresses to vote in a separate constituency) are conducted regularly.
The city of over 700 million residents ranked 11th in The Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International (2020), versus 25th of the United States, displaying its high level of transparency, including in elections.
According to the city’s Section 17B of Immigration Ordinance (Cap 115), the Special Administrative Region’s citizens aged 15 or above must carry identification documents with them at all times, with violators subject to fined penalties. In elections, citizens are also required to bring along their identity cards to cast their vote. The city does not accept mail-in or absentee votes, and the collection of one’s first identity card is free of charge.
While it may sound slightly Orwellian to some, it has enabled the city with one of the world’s lowest crime rates, and most importantly, a well-verified electorate and an electoral system trusted across party lines. And delightfully, some of the U.S. states have been moving in the right direction. States like Kansas has been issuing identity cards to their citizens free of charge.
Those against voter ID law simply aren’t giving up, unfortunately. Some claim that even if these cards are free, birth certificates required for application still costs a sum. Just note that Hong Kong, the world’s second most expensive city to live in, has double the poverty rate than U.S. average. People need to get over the illusion that exercising civil rights should incur no cost. The Berlin Wall has long fallen.
Most peculiar of all, since the Democrats have been tirelessly bombarding Republican disapproval of election results in the name of frauds (rather hypocritically, they did exactly the same in 2000 for Gore), why don’t they simply turn to support the legislation of voter ID laws so to end this endless cycle of farce once and for all?