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Voter Identification Laws Research Paper

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Updated: May 5th, 2020

Voter identification laws raised controversies in the 2012 elections in the US. By the time voters were electing new leaders, close to thirty states had already enacted laws barring a voter from masquerading as a genuine voter. However, critics noted that the voter identification laws were meant to disenfranchise voters and discourage them from participating in elections[1].

Democrats interpreted the laws to mean denying the minorities a chance to participate in elections. The laws were supported by the Republican dominated states that had a perception that minorities and students would support the Democrats. The following statement from one of the local dailies proves this. The Pennsylvania law, passed in March without any Democratic support, is one of 11 similar laws around the country approved by Republican-dominated legislatures[2].

On their part, Republicans claimed that some voters in the voter register were dead or did not even exist. For instance, a statement that, “In South Carolina, state authorities have been investigating allegations that more than 900 dead people voted in recent elections “ proves that Republicans had a solid claim[3]. The supporters and opponents of the voter identification laws had solid claims that made it difficult for the courts to make a ruling[4].

The voter identification laws are measures aimed at ensuring that registered voters do not allow other people to use their identities to cast votes[5]. Before the establishment of the voter laws in 2003, political parties made claims that some fraudsters had started using the voting cards of the deceased in voting[6]. The laws have been developed over years since each state has different fraud claims[7]. However, the bottom line is that voters should provide their identities before they can be allowed to cast their votes[8].

Identification varies from one state to the other. A large number of states demand a government-issued photograph while a small number of states simply demand a bank statement[9]. The electoral laws demand that a new voter provides identification. Indiana was the first state to apply the law in 2006. However, the Supreme Court challenged the policy two years later.

Opponents of the voter identification laws claim that the new policies affect the old in society, as well as the minorities. Opponents claim that, “a new nationwide analysis of more than 2,000 cases of alleged election fraud over the past dozen years shows that in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which has prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tougher voter ID laws, was virtually nonexistent[10].

In the US, the elderly, minorities, and the low-income individuals tend to vote for the Democratic Party. Acquiring a photograph would be challenging to the old and the disadvantaged in society. This is because they might not have sufficient funds to procure photos as demanded by the new voter identification laws[11]. Some states require additional documents, such as birth certificates, before releasing photographs.

The cost of acquiring a photograph can be as high as twenty-five dollars. In rural areas, people are unable to access identification certificates because of the challenges posed by the bureaucracy[12]. In Texas, voter identification laws were highly contested before elections, with one of the lawyers claiming that voters had to find a way of obtaining identification certificates because of increased cases of voter fraud.

Opponents of the voter identification laws in Texas claimed that the laws were oppressive and could be compared to the poll tax whereby Southern states forced blacks to pay fees before being allowed to vote[13]. Analysts noted that voter identification created an economic hurdle to the ballot box.

General Greg, a Texas Attorney, was one of the supporters of the voter identification laws. The jury claimed that his office had already arraigned in court over fifty individuals who impersonated as voters in Texas.

To him, voter fraud was a real problem that had to be addressed urgently before elections. Therefore, he suggested that states had to adopt voter identification laws in order to curb the vice. Texas Republicans observed that application of voter identification laws was a legitimate method of controlling fraud in the 2012 elections.

In this regard, the Republicans warned that it would be unconstitutional for courts to consider demographic factors, such as the gender, age, and economic status of the voter when making judgments over voter fraud cases. In particular, Mr. Perry took issue with the Obama administration and the Democrats in general for supporting fraudsters. To Mr. Perry, the courts in Texas contravened the wishes of the majority. His role was to ensure fair and accurate elections.

In the 2012 elections, the voter identification laws did not affect voting process because the courts ruled in favor of Democrats. The courts agreed that an identification criterion had to be designed during voting process, but identification could not be used to bar some voters from participating in the 2012 elections[14].

However, the courts supported the claims made by Republicans, by noting that voters would be required to produce identification photographs in future elections. The American attorney general was one of the governmental officials who intervened by suggesting that voters had to be allowed to vote in the 2012 elections because the Voting Rights Act permits all voters to participate in a political process without discrimination[15].

The Texas ruling was viewed as a landmark ruling because it supported the human rights and freedom contained in the constitution. Even though there was no prove of voter fraud, Republicans held that many cases of voter fraud go undetected[16]. Democrats accused the Republican dominated states for enacting laws that would bar minorities from participating in elections. Voter fraud was a political debate that did not have a legal grounding.


  1. Charlie Savage and Manny Fernandez, “The New York Times. Web.
  2. Ethan Bronner, “The New York Times. Web.
  3. Andrew Rosenthal, “The New York Times. Web.
  4. Charlie Savage and Manny Fernandez, “The New York Times. Web.
  5. Charlie Savage and Manny Fernandez, “The New York Times. Web.
  6. Ethan Bronner, “The New York Times. Web.
  7. Charlie Savage and Manny Fernandez, “The New York Times. Web.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Emily Foxhall, “”. Web.
  12. Julian Aguilar, “” is Swift and Partisan, The Texas Tribune. Web.
  13. Andrew Rosenthal, “Fear of Fraud,” The New York Times. Web.
  14. Ross Ramsey, “Keeping Dead Voters Away—and Live Ones, The Texas Tribune. Web.
  15. Suevon Lee, “ProPublica. Web.
  16. Michael Brandon and Jon Cohen, “Poll: Voter ID laws have support of a majority of Americans,” The Washington Post. Web.
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