Jan 12, 2018 in Law

Implementation of Public Policy: Voter ID Laws

Introduction

National Conference of State Legislatures (2013) defines voter ID laws as the measures adopted to make sure that the registered voter is the one  claiming to be and not an imposter attempting to vote using the identity of another person. The voter ID laws require voters to reveal some forms of identification prior to being allowed into an election. The form of voter identification varies across different states, with some states requiring one to present a government-issued photo whereas others requiring one to present other forms of identification such as bank statements. Levy (2012) classifies the state-voter ID laws into four groups, which include strict photo ID, photo ID or an alternative, non-photo ID, and no identification needed at the polling station. In the United States, voter ID laws are increasingly becoming a subject of political and legal contention. The supporters of the voter ID laws, which have been adopted in 30 states, argue that the laws are instrumental in averting fraudulent voting practices. On the other hand, the critics of the voter ID laws assert that the laws are a scheme aimed at disenfranchising voters.

Opponents of the voter ID laws assert that this is discriminatory against particular population groups such as the minorities, the elderly and the low-income groups associated with the Democrats. This stems from the fact that acquiring a photo ID is likely to be burdensome and costly, and that there are some instances where free ID requiring documents such as the birth certificate cost about $25. The voter ID laws have also been criticized on account that there is little evidence of voting fraud. Carter (2012) claims that the pervasiveness of voter fraud is unclear; therefore, such grounds cannot be used to justify the adoption of the voter ID laws. Another criticism of the voter ID laws is that it results into a lower voter turnout, particularly among minority members. This paper analyzes the voter ID laws in the state of Kansas using the strategic triangle method in terms of its substantive value, legal and political sustainable, and administrative and operational feasibility.

Description of the Policy

The voter ID laws in Kansas require a voter wanting to vote in an official election present a photo ID as a proof of identification. However, there are exemptions, which include people with permanent physical disability who cannot travel to acquire the ID; uniformed service members and merchant marine in active duty and not present in the county during the Election Day and their respective dependents and spouses; and any voter whose religious values and beliefs forbid photo identification (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2013). The valid forms of identification, if they have the photograph and name of the voter, include: driver’s license; the state identification card; a United States passport; military ID; the student ID card from an accredited institution; employee badge; an assistance ID card issued by the government. Any voter who is not capable of providing the valid and current identification is only allowed to vote using a provisional ballot, which is only counted after the voter submits a valid identification to the county election officer (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2013).

The need for enacting the voter ID laws in Kansas State was to combat voter fraud and to enhance the integrity of the United States electoral system by confirming the identity of people casting ballot. The laws do not provide an opportunity for people to falsely vote on behalf of others such as forging ballots, and people voting on behalf of dead people. The purpose expressed in the voter ID laws is valid; the integrity of the electoral process cannot be compromised in a contemporary democratic society. In addition, it is justifiable to implement measures that guarantee the integrity of the election. Therefore, the purposes for enacting the voter ID laws are valid and justified (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2013).

Analysis of the Kansas State Voter ID Laws Using the Strategic Triangle

The strategic triangle method analyzes a public policy on three accounts, which include its substantive value in preserving the integrity of elections; its political and legal sustainability; and its administrative and operational feasibility (Carter, 2012). Regarding its substantive value in preserving the integrity of the elections, it is undeniable that the voter ID laws are an important step in ensuring the integrity of the electoral system. Levy (2012) claims that voter fraud is a core issue that affects the integrity of the election process and warrants the implementation of laws that require voters to authenticate themselves using a government-issued ID. It is justified to limit the ability of Americans to vote than to have an electoral system that encourages fraudulent voting. In order to have an understanding of why the voter ID law is significant, one must understand how fraudulent voting harms the US electoral system. Carter, (2012) defines fraudulent voting as an unlawful interference in the voting process and can have an effect on vote counts resulting in election outcomes that are erroneous and unfair to the competing candidates. The Voter ID laws guarantees the fairness of the voting process and averts an unjust treatment to the electoral system, which was primarily designed to give US citizens a voice (Levy, 2012). Despite the fact that Voter ID laws limit the ability of some people to vote, the fairness and integrity of the electoral process is paramount. According to Levy (2012), the enacting of the Voter ID laws in Kansas State is a necessary protocol, which can guarantee the integrity of the United States voting process.

Regarding the legal and political sustainability of Voter ID laws, the restrictive nature of this laws make them unsustainable in terms of political and legal factors. Despite the exemptions, it is evident that the exceptions are not comprehensive and does not consider all the individuals who are likely to be locked out of the voting process. There is a number of legal and political issues ensuing the implementation of the voter ID laws (Levy, 2012). For instance, the laws are likely to prevent the elderly from taking part in the voting process. A case in point is an elderly citizen suing the state for being denied to vote because he/she does not have a driver’s license or a birth certificate. Voting is considered a special right that should not be infringed at any cost. 

Regarding the administrative and operational feasibility of the law, it is evident that voter ID laws can be implemented effectively and efficiently. The law provides several forms of alternative government-issued ID, which increases the likelihood of any voter having at least one of them. There are no operational challenges associated with the law since all that is required is the voter to present the photo ID to the election officer. In addition, there are no database verification procedures provided the photo ID matches with the individual presenting it. Regarding the administrative feasibility of the voter ID laws, it is apparent that the laws do not require the establishment of a new agency or body, but only a restructuring of the voting process and procedures using existing agencies. Based on this, it is evident that there are no operational and administrative challenges when implementing the law (Levy, 2012). Americans provide their photo ID during everyday activities such as boarding a plane; therefore, it is logical to provide a photo ID during an election process that only takes place once every four years. Therefore, the Voter ID laws in the Kansas State can be implemented efficiently and effectively without any administrative and operational challenges.  

Conclusion

From the analysis of the voter ID laws using the strategy triangle, it is apparent that the laws can withstand the strategic triangle test. The law is substantively valuable in preserving the integrity of election and is administratively and operationally feasible because it can be implemented; however, the law is not legally and politically sustainable. Overall, the law can be implemented regardless of the law being legally and politically unsustainable.

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