When confronted with opposition to voter-ID laws, Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, asked, "What's the big deal?" Rhode Island state Rep. Anastasia Williams, Democrat, agrees with Mr. Rubio, and is one of the biggest supporters of her state's voter-ID law. The big deal is voter fraud, which Ms. Williams experienced firsthand. She arrived at her polling place in 2006 only to be told that she had already voted. In 2010, she saw a man vote and then return, in different garb, to vote again. Requiring all voters to present a valid ID would help curb such abuses.
Many activists have maintained that voter-ID laws will disenfranchise voters, particularly Hispanics. But these claims are inconsistent with the data. Indeed, Puerto Rico's election law, for example, requires voters to present a voter identification card that includes a picture. Have Puerto Rican voters in Puerto Rico been disenfranchised by this law, which has been on the books for years?
Recent data from nonpartisan sources debunk the claim of disenfranchisement. According to an October survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, 97 percent of all registered Hispanic voters say they are confident they have the identification they will need to vote on Election Day (a figure that is virtually identical to the 98 percent of all registered voters). That is not surprising given that a valid ID is necessary to participate in many facets of our society: entering many public buildings, enrolling a child in public school, boarding an airplane, obtaining a library card. Voter IDs are generally available free of cost, and state election authorities assist eligible voters with obtaining identification. Contrary to popular perception, 71 percent of all registered Hispanic voters support voter-identification laws, a number that is in line with the 77 percent support the laws enjoy among the general registered-voter population.
The growing Hispanic population in the United States will play a significant role in next week's election. It is important that the vote of every eligible Hispanic voter is recorded fairly and that no eligible voter be denied access to the polls. Once those votes are cast, it is of great importance to the Hispanic community that there can be confidence the votes were cast fairly so that no one can question the legitimacy of their votes.
Every fraudulent vote cancels out a legal vote. We all know how each vote matters on Election Day, when our country will be deciding the path it should take. That's a big deal.
Hispanic Bar of the District of Columbia
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