The Gustavian Weekly

The last election you’ll ever vote in | The Gustavian Weekly

By Emma Schmidtke - Opinion Columnist | September 30, 2016 | Opinion

Fifteen minutes ago, I applied for my absentee ballet.

The process was simple, short, and only required the state government’s website and some basic information.

In November, I cast my vote not only for the next president but also for the decision makers of both my state and my hometown.

I am excited to vote in this election, not only because voting is important, but because it could be the last election I ever vote in.

Sorry, that was dramatic.

To clarify, I am not saying democracy as a whole could disappear from this country.

But my vote and the vote of many others could cease to exist under Voter ID laws.

Voting laws vary from state to state, but presently all one needs to vote, after being registered, is some sort of proof of their residence in the county.

It could be a student ID or a piece of mail or a Driver’s License.

Voter ID laws require a person to show state issued ID on the day of the election.

These laws would also effectively kill absentee voting.

No problem, you might be thinking.

I can switch my districts and just walk on down to St. Peter’s community center on Election Day.

I can use my Minnesota Driver’s License or if I do not have my license or am an out-of-state student, I can use my Gustavus ID.

Except, under Voter ID laws, student IDs don’t count because they are not government issued.

So if you do not have the ability to drive home on Election Day, you do not get to vote under Voter ID laws.

The good news is that Minnesota does not have a Voter ID law.

A Voter ID constitution amendment was proposed during the 2012 election, but it was defeated.

The bad news is that 13 states have passed Voter ID laws and one of two major president candidates vehemently supports the laws.

Back in August, Donald Trump described Voter ID laws as just common sense to keep people from “voting 15 times for Hillary.”

Voter ID laws are rising in popularity and they threaten more voters than just college students.

To begin with, both Texas’s and North Carolina’s Voter ID laws have been taken to court for targeting Black and Latino voters, who are significantly less likely to own state-issued ID’s than White voters.

Women have been turned away from polling places under these laws because they are registered under their married names but have not yet switched their last names on their Driver’s License.

The bad news is that 13 states have passed Voter ID laws and one of two major president candidates vehemently supports the laws.

Poor people are also more likely to be disenfranchised as they are more transitory and often do not have the time or resources to acquire state IDs with their current addresses.

Noticing a pattern here? These groups tend to vote Democrat. Republicans are Voter ID’s greatest champions.

Conservative politicians claim requiring voters to provide ID is the least our government can do to prevent election fraud.

Except in-person voter impersonation, the only type of fraud these laws prevent, is virtually nonexistent.

According to the Washington Post, multiple government investigations, academic research, and news inquiries have found no significant presence of voter fraud.

For example, Kansas’s Secretary of State examined 84 million votes cast in 22 states and found 14 cases warranting prosecution.

That’s 0.00000017% of votes cast. Donald Trump is wrong.

No one is going to be voting for Hillary Clinton, or anyone else, 15 times.

So this year, you must vote against Voter ID laws and referendums.

Vote against the politicians who support these laws.

Vote for the voting rights of yourself and others.

Vote. Vote. Vote.

Because if you don’t, you may never get a chance to vote again.