Voter ID laws infringe on rights
Government is like a business in that it offers a product — in this case, the laws and general rules of society — to a consumer: the voters. And in the same way that a company is responsible to the consumers to offer a product they desire, so to should the government be to the electorate.
But according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, voter participation in the 2004 presidential election was at 55.7 percent and 57.1 percent in the 2008 election — and the vote for U.S. representatives fared worse. There was only a turnout of 36.1 percent in the 2006 and 37 percent in 2010. What’s truly discouraging about this data is that only about half of the eligible voter population chose to cast a vote.
Whether we like it or not, we are consumers of the product that the government creates. And we, as voters, have the power to change that through such a simple thing as a ballot. Voting can be bothersome, difficult, time-consuming, and a general pain to deal with, but if we have an opinion on current affairs in our country and government, the first step to voicing that opinion is to cast a vote. Whether you choose to vote for a Republican, Democrat or third-party candidate is of little concern.
Companies do not change without feedback from the consumer, nor do governments without feedback from the electorate.
And right now, even the right to vote is being infringed upon. In June, the Supreme Court voted to dismantle part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-4 vote, according to The New York Times. The act has been used to prevent discrimination at the voting booth, including discrimination by race.
Since the Act’s repeal, states have the lawful authority to pass voter identification laws, with Texas being the first to do so.
These identification laws make it necessary for voters to have proper identification — such as a driver’s license — in order to cast a ballot. But the identification system is rigged by our nation’s Republican Party. Having identification, such as a driver’s license, requires money — money that some people don’t have. It also requires a permanent address. Low-income individuals — those without money or a permanent address — are more heavily concentrated in the Democratic Party. Therefore, barring such individuals from voting ensures a Republican win in local elections.
With this Supreme Court decision arises the fear that if we don’t use our voting rights, they will be taken away.
For companies and governments to make decisions that are pleasing to the consumer and electorate, they need to know public opinion, which means we need to vote. More than that, they need to know that there are actual tangible consequences to taking a path contrary to public opinion. If we choose not to vote — if we choose not to be an informed electorate — we give up our ability to influence our country, a most outstanding and remarkable right.