Yesenia Jones | Staff Writer
This year’s midterm elections have brought forth multiple proposed amendments for our state’s constitution; however, the proposal for a voter ID requirement could potentially be the most harmful for people of color.
The exact language on sample ballots reads as follows: “Constitutional amendment to require voters to provide photo identification before voting in person”
In the eyes of legislators, the amendment is an attempt to prevent voter fraud, which was a large concern during the 2016 presidential election. While it’s true that voter fraud has become an issue in recent years, this amendment would not address the issue.
According to a New York Times article, nearly 4.8 million people voted in North Carolina’s 2016 general election and only 19 people voted illegally through false identities. The article also states that many of them were not aware that their legal or criminal status denied them of their right to vote.
Access to education on voting laws would be a solution to this issue that wouldn’t infringe upon the rights of people of color and lower economic status.
A Project Vote Research Memo that was produced in 2015 stated that 13 percent of black, 10 percent of Hispanic and only five percent of white people did not have government-issued identification. This information was derived from the 2012 American National Elections Study.
Also, the non-profit organization Color of Change revealed that 34 percent of black women in North Carolina do not have government-issued IDs.
The unequal distribution of government issued photo identification is a direct result of systematic oppression.
People of color who are lower income are less likely to have a vehicle and therefore, will not have a driver’s license. Drivers licenses’ are the most common form of identification among Americans.
Also, passports are usually only held by citizens who have traveled outside of the United States, which is very uncommon amongst people of a lower socioeconomic status.
Therefore, the implementation of this amendment could greatly change the outcome of future elections, especially considering that minority communities predominantly vote Democrat. The loss of the minority vote would result in more Republican politicians that are not representative of low-income and minority communities. This would result in even more discriminatory legislation that would deeply affect our communities.
We’ve seen similar legislation in North Carolina, like the Voter ID law passed in 2013. This law was passed by Republican former Governor Pat McCrory.
In 2016, a panel of judges in federal appeals court struck down the law and stated that Republican lawmakers had targeted “African Americans with almost surgical precision” and “the most restrictive voting law North Carolina has seen since the era of Jim Crow.” This information was restated by an article in the Washington Post titled “Inside the Republican creation of the North Carolina voting bill dubbed the ‘monster’ law.”
The resurrection of this legislation proves the entanglement of racism within North Carolina’s political system. With Democratic governor Roy Cooper, it would seem as though this sort of legislation would have less room in our political system. But this is not the case.
With Donald Trump in the White House and the proposal of discriminatory amendments, it’s now more important than ever that we vote. It’s especially important that college-aged citizens of minority communities vote to protect their rights and the rights of others in their community who have been disenfranchised by systematic racism.
If you’re not registered go out and register to vote. Make sure that you vote before or on Nov. 6 and make sure you vote against the voter ID amendment.