Our View: Requiring photo IDs for voting unnecessary

Our View

In short: Changes to the current system of voter confirmation would create more complications.

If you don’t have a driver’s license, the next time you want to vote in Alabama might cost you $23.50.

A bill currently working its way through the Alabama Legislature would require all voters to show a photo ID when they vote, rather than the range of name-and-address-confirming documents, like utility bills, currently required.

For Alabamians who don’t already have an ID, this means an investment in either a driver’s license – not a cheap or necessarily simple thing to acquire – or a state ID card, which runs at a rate of $23.50.

That’s not a lot of money, but it shouldn’t cost a dime to vote.

This won’t affect a lot of people, but for the few that it does, it could cause some serious problems.

One main group it would affect would be the elderly, many of whom do not have driver’s licenses. Considering that the elderly are the most loyal and consistent voters, this could cause a lot of confusion at the polls on Election Day.

Another group it would affect would be low-income citizens, who are less likely to have a driver’s license and less likely to have the spare cash to buy an ID.

People who have voted using their utility bills and other forms of ID for years have gotten into the habit of doing that. Those who get a new ID will be fine, albeit deprived of a few dollars just so they can exercise their rights, but those who can’t or don’t get a new ID will be turned away at the polls. Not because they don’t have the right, but because they don’t have the right card.

Sure, the bill has a noble goal, which is improve the integrity and security of elections by making sure that the people who are voting are the people who registered. It will not do what many people seem to claim it will, which is make sure that people only vote once. If multiple voting is the issue, then the problem probably has more to do with voter registration, not identification.

All this legislation will do is contribute to the indirect disenfranchisement of the elderly and the poor. People have the ability to vote, but this is just one more hurdle between the people and their constitutional right to a voice in government. We should be promoting freedom and democracy, not requiring more hoops to jump through.

There’s no need for a $23.50 poll tax, and no need for a policy that could just lead to more confusion.

Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White’s editorial board.