Photo ID laws are discriminatory to minorities

Photo Identification Laws Disproportionately Disenfranchise Minorities

How photo ID laws make voting harder for specific demographics of voters


Article I of the Constitution gives states the power to make laws governing elections. Since then, there have been several federal amendments to the Constitution to protect the right to vote for all Americans. For example, the 15th Amendment gave African-American men the right to vote and the 19th Amendment enfranchised women. Laws such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibited voting practices that discriminate based on race, color, or membership to a language minority group. However, because states have the ability to make unique laws regarding voting and elections, wide variation exists across the country in terms of regulations governing the voting process. Laws regarding voter registration, absentee voting, early voting, polling times, etc. all vary depending on the state.

Most recently, states have begun to implement photo ID laws, which require voters to show a government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Again, these laws vary widely depending on the state and largely fall into five different categories: strict photo ID, strict non-photo ID, photo ID requested, ID requested with photo not required, and no document required to vote. However, all forms of voter ID laws have one thing in common: they systematically disenfranchise minority and low-income voters.

Voting is already an irrational behavior. The costs of voting (time, transportation, information collection) all far outweigh any benefits received. The only rational reason people vote is because of a sense of civic duty. Perhaps this comes from proudly displaying an "I voted" sticker on your suit at work or from answering the phone call from your mom on November 6th and being able to say that yes, you, in fact, did vote and no, you are not as irresponsible as she thinks. However, by adding yet another hoop for voters to jump through, photo ID laws decrease participation in elections. This is problematic because participation in elections, especially at the state and local level, is already dismally low (only 27 percent of eligible voters turn out to local elections).

Most importantly though, specific demographics of voters are more likely to not possess a government-issued photo ID, such as minority groups and low-income, low-education individuals. And when participation systematically excludes minorities and lower-class individuals, there are real consequences. The interests of those who do not and cannot vote go unrepresented in the legislature, as representatives respond to the concerns of their voting constituents whom their re-election depends on. Furthermore, descriptive representation of minority voters goes down, as people tend to vote for people who physically resemble themselves. When individuals do not see people like themselves in office, they can be discouraged against participating in a system that consistently under-represents them.

Finally, there is no basis for the sudden mass implementation of photo ID laws. As of February 2019, 35 states enforce or are scheduled to begin enforcing photo ID requirements. The main arguments for supporting these laws rests in the idea of the need to protect electoral integrity and to fight against voter fraud. However, voter fraud is not a real issue (even though consistent rhetoric from politicians has turned it into one). Between 2000 and 2014, only 31 cases of voter fraud were confirmed out of over 1 billion ballots cast. The underlying reason for the implementation of these laws rests in history. Barriers to voting date back to post-Civil War efforts to systematically disenfranchise African Americans.

Jim Crow laws prevented African Americans from voting for almost one-hundred years after the 15th Amendment Constitutionally granted males the right to vote. Laws regulating (and most often preventing) felons from voting further disenfranchise black and low-income individuals who suffer from mass incarceration due to fabricated wars on drugs and crime that elected officials utilize as political tools. Now, we have the emergence of photo ID laws that continue to disenfranchise specific demographics of voters under the veil of protecting against voter fraud.

It is time to take the veil off and see these laws for what they are. Photo ID laws are discriminatory. They add another barrier to voting, and they are unnecessary to protect electoral integrity. They can be traced back to history as yet another form of minority voter disenfranchisement.

And they are not okay.

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Dear Senator Walsh, I Can't Wait For The Day That A Nurse Saves Your Life

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.


Dear Senator Walsh,

I can't even fathom how many letters you've read like this in the past 72 hours. You've insulted one of the largest, strongest and most emotion-filled professions.. you're bound to get a lot of feedback. And as nurses, we're taught that when something makes us mad, to let that anger fuel us to make a difference and that's what we're doing.

I am not even a nurse. I'm just a nursing student. I have been around and I've seen my fair share of sore legs and clinical days where you don't even use the bathroom, but I am still not even a nurse yet. Three years in, though, and I feel as if I've given my entire life and heart to this profession. My heart absolutely breaks for the men and women who are real nurses as they had to wake up the next morning after hearing your comments, put on their scrubs and prepare for a 12-hour day (during which I promise you, they didn't play one card game).

I have spent the last three years of my life surrounded by nurses. I'm around them more than I'm around my own family, seriously. I have watched nurses pass more medications than you probably know exist. They know the side effects, dosages and complications like the back of their hand. I have watched them weep at the bedside of dying patients and cry as they deliver new lives into this world. I have watched them hang IV's, give bed baths, and spoon-feed patients who can't do it themselves. I've watched them find mistakes of doctors and literally save patient's lives. I have watched them run, and teach, and smile, and hug and care... oh boy, have I seen the compassion that exudes from every nurse that I've encountered. I've watched them during their long shifts. I've seen them forfeit their own breaks and lunches. I've seen them break and wonder what it's all for... but I've also seen them around their patients and remember why they do what they do. You know what I've never once seen them do? Play cards.

The best thing about our profession, Senator, is that we are forgiving. The internet might be blown up with pictures mocking your comments, but at the end of the day, we still would treat you with the same respect that we would give to anyone. That's what makes our profession so amazing. We would drop anything, for anyone, anytime, no matter what.

You did insult us. It does hurt to hear those comments because from the first day of nursing school we are reminded how the world has zero idea what we do every day. We get insulted and disrespected and little recognition for everything we do sometimes. But you know what? We still do it.

When it's your time, Senator, I promise that the nurse taking care of you will remember your comments. They'll remember the way they felt the day you publicly said that nurses "probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day." The jokes will stop and it'll eventually die down, but we will still remember.

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

Please just remember that we cannot properly take care of people if we aren't even taken care of ourselves.

I sincerely pray that someday you learn all that nurses do and please know that during our breaks, we are chugging coffee, eating some sort of lunch, and re-tying our shoes... not playing cards.

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Dear Nancy Pelosi, 16-Year-Olds Should Not Be Able To Vote

Because I'm sure every sixteen year old wants to be rushing to the voting booth on their birthday instead of the BMV, anyways.


Recent politicians such as Nancy Pelosi have put the voting age on the political agenda in the past few weeks. In doing so, some are advocating for the voting age in the United States to be lowered from eighteen to sixteen- Here's why it is ludicrous.

According to a study done by "Circle" regarding voter turnout in the 2018 midterms, 31% of eligible people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted. Thus, nowhere near half of the eligible voters between 18 and 29 actually voted. To anyone who thinks the voting age should be lowered to sixteen, in relevance to the data, it is pointless. If the combination of people who can vote from the legal voting age of eighteen to eleven years later is solely 31%, it is doubtful that many sixteen-year-olds would exercise their right to vote. To go through such a tedious process of amending the Constitution to change the voting age by two years when the evidence doesn't support that many sixteen-year-olds would make use of the new change (assuming it would pass) to vote is idiotic.

The argument can be made that if someone can operate heavy machinery (I.e. drive a car) at sixteen, they should be able to vote. Just because a sixteen-year-old can (in most places) now drive a car and work at a job, does not mean that they should be able to vote. At the age of sixteen, many students have not had fundamental classes such as government or economics to fully understand the political world. Sadly, going into these classes there are students that had mere knowledge of simple political knowledge such as the number of branches of government. Well, there are people above the age of eighteen who are uneducated but they can still vote, so what does it matter if sixteen-year-olds don't know everything about politics and still vote? At least they're voting. Although this is true, it's highly doubtful that someone who is past the age of eighteen, is uninformed about politics, and has to work on election day will care that much to make it to the booths. In contrast, sixteen-year-olds may be excited since it's the first time they can vote, and likely don't have too much of a tight schedule on election day, so they still may vote. The United States does not need people to vote if their votes are going to be uneducated.

But there are some sixteen-year-olds who are educated on issues and want to vote, so that's unfair to them. Well, there are other ways to participate in government besides voting. If a sixteen-year-old feels passionate about something on the political agenda but can't vote, there are other ways of getting involved. They can canvas for politicians whom they agree with, or become active in the notorious "Get Out The Vote" campaign to increase registered voter participation or help register those who already aren't. Best yet, they can politically socialize their peers with political information so that when the time comes for all of them to be eighteen and vote, more eighteen-year-olds will be educated and likely to vote.

If you're a sixteen-year-old and feel hopeless, you're not. As the 2016 election cycle approached, I was seventeen and felt useless because I had no vote. Although voting is arguably one of the easiest ways to participate in politics, it's not the only one. Since the majority of the current young adult population don't exercise their right to vote, helping inform them of how to stay informed and why voting is important, in my eyes is as essential as voting.

Sorry, Speaker Pelosi and all the others who think the voting age should be lowered. I'd rather not have to pay a plethora of taxes in my later years because in 2020 sixteen-year-olds act like sheep and blindly vote for people like Bernie Sanders who support the free college.

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