Pointless troubles at the polls

I am angry today. I’m angry because numerous college students just like you and me were denied the right to vote in this last election.

The blame for this lies mostly in a recent voter ID law change which no longer allows voters  sign an affidavit confirming the eligibility of a voter without a proper ID.

The stated reasoning behind voter ID laws is that they seek to reduce voter fraud. I think this is a misunderstanding of what voter fraud even is.

There are multiple types of voter fraud. For example, there is buying votes, tampering with voting machines, voter intimidation, and individuals voting multiple times. Of all these types of fraud,  voter ID laws only target one of these, and the interesting thing is this type of fraud also is the least common.

A recent analysis of primary, general, special and municipal elections by Loyola University professor Justin Levitt found that since 2000, more than a billion ballots have been cast in the United States and there have been just 31 credible incidents of voter fraud.

That is .000000031 percent proven voter fraud.

Yet, stricter and stricter voter ID laws are rolled out in this country to somewhat unreasonable standards. As I mentioned before, North Dakota is actually one of the tamer states for ID laws, but that makes it all the more nonsensical to introduce stricter laws.

State Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider got it exactly right when he called North Dakota’s new voter ID law “a solution in search of a problem.”

Secretary of State Al Jaeger said in an interview with the Grand Forks Herald that “There may not have been anything wrong, but when it’s kind of gray, it also creates a perception that there could be something wrong.”

So he flat-out admitted that this law was created not because of an actual problem, but because of the illusion of a problem.

Now, at first it might seem like, what is the big deal? After all, you need proper ID to do anything else. It shouldn’t be easier to vote than it is to buy alcohol right? Sure, if you ignore the fact that there are literally hundreds of thousands more people who attempt to buy alcohol illegally than people who attempt to vote illegally.

The main problem is the address on your ID has to match the address that you are currently living at. If that isn’t the case, you can print out a student ID certificate from campus connection that will allow you to vote. However, the Campus Connection address must match the address where you are currently living, if that does not, then you can change it, but only 30 days before the election. If you haven’t done any of that, then you do not get to vote.

Who’s actually affected by this?  Have you lived in Grand Forks all your life? No? Then you could have potentially been affected by

Most people who go to college here moved here from somewhere else. So here is what you have to do in order to vote. You must either update your drivers license every single time you move (I personally have moved three times in the last three years thanks to college), or you must update your address in Campus Connection every single time.

State Rep. Randy Boehning said that, ““It’s our responsibility as citizens to have the proper ID to go vote.”

Which I would agree with to a point. I certainly believe that students should keep themselves informed in order to make an educated choice. However, I think it is unfair to change the rules suddenly without any good reason. And sorry, but virtually non-existent voter fraud is not a good reason.

The only reason I knew about these changes was that I was so politically active this last election. There are many more who weren’t.

Even my roommate was denied the right to vote. He went to the polls ready to vote, yet his license didn’t have the correct address. So he printed out the student ID certificate, and was still denied.

My roommate said that this experience was, in his words, “Why my generation doesn’t vote.”

Some have thought that because of the results of the election that these voices wouldn’t have made a difference.

But that’s not the point. The point is we fought for years for everyone to have the right to vote, and now we see a large group of people who are denied the right that we used to deny to women and African Americans.

Voting is your right and privilege as an American citizen. It is outrageous that we are silencing the voices of college students who are trying to make a difference.

Mike Rauser is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].