Since the founding of this country, Americans have fought for the right to vote. From the 15th and 19th Amendments to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, there have been many long, hard battles and many victories in the field of voting rights. But the fight is not over. In many ways, it is worse than ever.
In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a major provision of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder that required states and local governments to get federal approval before changing voting laws. These provisions were in place to stop racially discriminatory laws from being passed at the state level to curtail voting rights. Just two hours after the Supreme Court decision, the state of Texas passed the first version of a new voter ID law, which allowed citizens to vote with a concealed-carry gun permit, but not with a student ID card. As of this writing, 34 states have voter ID laws on the books, and 20 of those states require government-issued photo ID with limited or no alternatives.
So what’s the problem with this? 21 million eligible votersin the United States do not have government-issued photo ID. And, for many, these IDs are very difficult to secure.
People have fought and died for the right to vote. Voter ID laws prevent people from exercising this right. If you live in a voter ID state, there is someone in your district who cannot vote because they don’t have the right ID. Lack of access to ID cards impacts people even in states without voter ID laws. Accessing a photo ID is much more challenging for the young, the elderly, people of color, and people with low incomes. All of these groups are more likely not to have photo ID, which means they aren’t authorized to work, and may not have access to their local shelter or food bank.
If you care about voter participation and making an impact at the polls in your district, getting IDs can not only change the electorate, but changes lives.