It’s pretty simple: ID requirements are voter intimidation and disenfranchisement

It seems so simple.

On election day, you arrive at your polling place, walk in and show them your voter registration card along with a government-issued ID. Vote, walk out.

If you don’t have identification, you can’t vote.

It seems so simple when you look at it simply. But it simply isn’t that simple.

Since 2011, state governments across the nation, including North Carolina, have pushed for stricter voting legislation, ranging from restrictions on election-day registration to measures delaying early voting. However, the most notable proposition is to require voters to present identification at the polls.

To you or me, that may seem like a decent proposal. It’s likely that most of us have a driver’s license or a passport or something handy.

However, laws of this sort would exclude around 450,000 North Carolina voters on election day, an amount composed largely of minorities, the poor, seniors, and students like us.

If the ID laws take away so many votes, why is there a push to enact these laws?

The reason lawmakers give is that the laws will cut down on voter fraud. “Voter fraud” itself is a blanket term for a myriad of offenses, including vote buying and voter intimidation, but legislators provide accounts of double-voting, deceased voters, or felons voting.

However, according to New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, many of these accounts were disproved after investigation of the stories and the alleged perpetrators. Also, they point out that fraudulent votes account for miniscule fractions of percentages of the electorate and that voter fraud itself carries a punishment of a $10,000 fine and five years in federal prison.

For one vote.

In my opinion, it’s wildly unnecessary to enforce strident restrictions on upwards of 10 percent of the electorate for a problem which occurs as low as 0.00004 percent of the time.

So I ask again: why enact these laws?

The movement for stricter voting laws has been led by conservative governors and legislatures across the board. If that doesn’t speak volumes, then I’ll allow Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai to speak on his colleagues’ behalf: “Voter ID (will) allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

He said it himself: the voter ID movement is a partisan machination to eliminate Democrat-leaning voters.

North Carolina’s Republican gubernatorial hopeful Pat McCrory also wishes to install voter identification laws in this state, and cites the uniform reason — voting fraud is a problem that must be fixed.

“If you don’t look for it, you won’t find it,” McCrory stated. “Nobody’s looking.”

Well, Mr. McCrory, I looked.

According to the Republican National Lawyers’ Association, North Carolina tallied only 15 cases of assorted voter fraud in the past 12 years: six counts of non-resident voting, five charges of vote buying, and four cases of double-voting.

Only the cases of double-voting occurred in the last election cycle. One of the defendants, Kierra Leach, said that she voted early, then voted on election day because she believed her early vote wouldn’t count.

“It was an accident,” Leach claimed. “It wasn’t planned or anything.”

Aye, there’s the rub: the electorate is afraid of disenfranchisement even before they cast their vote. But the democratic process shouldn’t be intimidating; it should be a basic right enjoyed by all Americans. We shouldn’t bar people from voting because they don’t have a piece of plastic with their picture on it, and we shouldn’t force them to jump an unnecessary hurdle to vote.

So let’s drop this “voter fraud” nonsense.

Let’s keep it simple.