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Author
Shelby Holliday
Date
September 24, 2012

Getting Carded

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Showing “proof of identification” is something a lot
of us do every day. You need a student ID to check out library books, a
driver’s license to get behind the wheel, a passport to travel outside
of the United States, and maybe even a company card if you’re interning
or working over the summer. (I had to swipe my CBS ID two different
times before I could even get to my desk this morning!)

So when it comes to presidential elections, why is requiring IDs at the polls such a controversial topic? Well first of all, each state has its own set of rules:

States with “strict” laws require voters to show photo IDs at
the polls — things like driver’s licenses, passports, and government ID
cards.

States with “non-strict” laws often let voters show non-photo
IDs — things like utility bills, bank statements, and paychecks.

Some states let voters cast “provisional ballots” without showing any ID
at all. Those voters usually have to go back within a few days and
prove their identity in order for their ballots to count.

Now for the controversy: people in favor of strict ID laws say
they are necessary to maintain the integrity of the election process.
People opposed to them say that strict laws will suppress the vote of
minorities, the poor, and the elderly — all groups who are less likely
to have photo IDs.

And with the election just six weeks, many
state laws are up in the air. According to the National Conference of
State Legislatures, voter ID legislation was introduced in 32 states this year — that includes proposals to introduce new laws, strengthen existing laws, and amend existing laws.

A few examples:

  • In Pennsylvaniaa tough new voter ID law has been thrown back to a lower court. Now atrial judge must assure that “there will be no voter disenfranchisement arising out of the ID requirement.”
  • In Wisconsin, a state Supreme Court is considering a request from Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to overturn lower court rulings that the state?s law is unconstitutional. Read more here.
  • And in South Carolina, a strict new voter ID law is being considered by a panel of federal judges to determine whether or not it is discriminatory. Regardless of what they decide, the Supreme Court is expected to be asked to consider an appeal.

So what will happen with these voter ID laws? And could they have an impact on the election? We asked students in South Carolina what they think, but now we want to hear from YOU.

Should voters be required to show photo IDs before casting a ballot? Weigh in here or on my Facebook page — we want to hear what students think.

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