The issue of the Voter ID law is a heated topic this presidential election. Both faculty and students at Seton Hill University (SHU) have strong opinions on the topic, whether they are for or against this law. The Voter ID law requires that citizens must have some form of identification in order to vote. Though this law is not yet passed in Pennsylvania due to the short amount of time before the election, it most likely will be implemented next year.
The Voter ID law is mainly supported by the Republican Party, who promote the laws in order that they may prevent any illegal voter conduct. Some people however, mainly those in the Democrat party, suspect that the real purpose behind the laws is to prevent a large number of the Democrat population from voting.
SHU Philosophy professor John Atherton called the Voter ID law “overkill and a waste of time,” saying that “there are, for all practical purposes, no fraudulent voters (something like 20 cases in the last 40 years and this nationally)”.
“Voter ID laws are ridiculous. They’re an attempt to keep our must vulnerable members of society–the elderly, the poor, young people, and urban populations–from voting,” says Nicole Peeler, an English professor.
“The sole purpose of the law is to try and prevent voter misconduct, whether or not people view it that way or not,” said Jesse Oddis, a sophomore music education major. “I realize that some people think that it’s being used to the advantage of one party. Personally, I feel like they’re there to prevent voter fraud, which is a major problem”.
“Honestly, I think the voter ID laws are awful,” said Laura Homison, a junior computer science major. “It is clearly an attempt by republicans to stop a portion of the democratic party’s base from voting, those who cannot afford to pay for ID”.
It is also a common belief that the Voter ID laws were enacted to keep a large number of Democrats from voting. “The Republican backers have readily admitted, it is their attempt to reduce voter turn out. That is, it was intentionally done close to the national elections because it would disproportionately hurt the democrats,” said Atherton.
“Giving them another hurdle to jump in order to participate in our democratic system is voter suppression at its most obvious. Especially as there are only a handful of reported cases of voter fraud across the US, many of which have been contested,” said Peeler.
“If you really boil it down, this is unconstitutional. It’s a poll tax, something we haven’t seen since the Jim Crow laws. What’s next? You must be a white, land-owning male?” said Homison.
Oddis expressed that an important action like voting should require an ID, since simpler activities require ID. “You have to have an ID to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes,” said Oddis. “I feel that Voter ID laws are a good idea because they ensure that everyone who does cast a vote is a person eligible to do so. There are many ways to obtain a form of identification that would be considered valid.”
“Two free forms of identification that are given to you by the government are your social security card and birth certificate. They are two of the most crucial documents needed to show you are a US citizen,” said Brian Tanner, sophomore history education major. “If you don’t have those two documents, you should have the motivation to obtain a form of ID that proves you have the right to vote for your elected officials.”