Throughout the United States, the many districts and states make sure that who you say you are is your real identity. There isn’t a single state that doesn’t verify this in someway. The only difference and the one that really matters is how these states are identifying who you are. There are various methods when going to different voter polling places that vary across state lines. There is no one uniform way for the entire voting population.
Methods of Validation
Different states use various methods of validating if your identity is whom you claim. Sine states will compare signatures on documents or IDs. Others will do a cross reference in a database with your Social Security digits along with asking for a utility bill or paycheck. Others have more lenient criteria that just include bringing in an approved document, such as a government issued ID card, and a special affidavit for those who have no ID.
Many states have stricter laws to prevent voter ID, that includes specific photo ID cards, while in other states you could get away with just a student ID. For the majority of Americans, everyone has at least one valid photo ID by the time they’re eligible to vote. At the crux of the potential problem and crux of the matter is for those select citizens without IDs.
Stricter or more uniform laws will be able to work when they come with a safety feature where eligible voting citizens will not be left behind. There have been some cases both for and against stricter voting laws that have sought to protect voters from fraud.
Court Challenges & Litigation
There have been a few states that have created stricter laws and experienced pushbacks. Some of these on the list are Indiana, Georgia, Missouri, Kansa, Texas, and Washington to name a few. Court challenges followed up in all of these states. Litigation went against the strict photo ID requirements. Differing suits were put up against all of these new laws, some successful others not so much.
The question is how much do these voter ID laws prevent fraud? According to many supporters these laws are working and would be able to stop fraud. Others on the opposite side of the issue would disagree. Some of these new laws would not much to prevent fraud that may occur through absentee voting.
A three-judge panel consisting of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit came to the conclusion that some of these laws were not restrictive enough to prevent voter fraud.
Preventing Yourself From Being a Victim
November is the time of the year eligible citizens will get out and vote in their general elections. Whether you’re going to a local election or national one, it is a civic duty to go out and vote. The last thing you’d want is to have your own identity used for fraud. Luckily, this isn’t that common it is a problem that has arisen but usually goes unreported.
If someone is caught committing voter fraud, there are severe penalties. The accused could face up to 5 years in prison and have to pay up to $10,000 in restitution. You should take care of all necessary precautions before going to vote. This means ensuring you have your ID and any necessary papers to get your vote out on Election Day.
Inadequacies in Voter Fraud Laws
Many times the problem doesn’t come directly from the voter, but by the surrounding factors in an election, this means human ineptitude and outdated voting practices and machines.
A recent study by Brennan Center for Justice found that the majority of states use voting machines that are not even manufactured anymore. 43 states are also using machines that are upwards of 10 years old. Election officials have called from 22 states for new machines but aren’t able to secure the funding. That amount of states represents around 120 million voters and 324 of the United State’s electoral votes.
The integrity of the machines is also an important step in securing protections against voter fraud and identity theft. If the majority of these machines are that old, they’re most certainly not equipped with the best security systems or encoded protections we find on the Internet and in modern equipment.
Incidents & Should You Be Worried?
There are possibilities for other instances of voter fraud, as state governments are not provided with the information to compare voting records between different states. Many states will not collect the last four digits of a Social Security Number; this prevents detection of voting multiple times from state to state.
A Havard political scientist, Stephen Ansolabehere said that there is a common belief that voter fraud does happen frequently in major election years. Though with current methods, there has not been a way for scientists to develop measures to adequately study a phenomenon like this. There are not enough legal cases where they’d be able to find evidence on hand for a compelling study.
Other concerns with voting fraud have been linked to voting by foreign nationals. Many studies purported that a small percentage of foreign nationals were registered to vote. These methodologies were put to the test and were found to be incorrect as it’s almost a certainty that only zero percent of non-citizens had taken part in any American elections. Support for stricter voter ID laws comes with the territory of presuming that the problem is running stronger and is a major issue. Many studies looking into the matter have found that the existing laws are more than enough to deal with the most common fear of impersonation.
Of the states with stricter laws, only a few of them impose restrictions in terms of absentee ballots. Overall, if you’re equipped with an ID or the necessary documents need to vote, you’ll be fine and don’t have to worry about your identity being stolen. It has been rare for impersonation to occur resulting in any identity theft.