Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson has recently remarked that voting “should be done by the appropriate people.”  By making this statement, Carson incites what I had wrongfully assumed was an already resolved discussion: one that asks “who is an ‘appropriate’ voter?”

If you consult the Constitution and relevant Amendments (15th, 19th, 23rd, 24th, and 26th), any American citizen over the age of eighteen is considered an “appropriate” voter.  Dr. Carson issued this statement in defense of the current Republican-backed legislative push that adds racist, classist, and ageist stipulations to voting rights. These are nothing more than partially veiled attempts to stifle left-leaning voters from the polls.


These voting rights stipulations have manifested in many forms, but the most evident, and perhaps the most vile, is the incredibly specific requirement of the possession of a state-issued photo ID. While the law seems logical, it is actively preventing would-be voters from representing themselves by targeting the weakness of their financial situation. The in- “appropriate people” denied representation by this legislation are citizens that can’t afford transportation to a DMV, can’t afford the time apart from their place of employment to stay at the DMV office for a significant amount of time, and can’t afford the cost of a state issued ID. For some voters, this law makes the price of voting in a national election around 58 dollars – an amount of disposable income so many citizens simply do not have. A 2006 study found that 48 percent of registered, but non-regular voters say that their voting is impeded by access (that it’s too difficult to access the materials required to vote). These voters are disproportionally black, Latino, and low-income.

It’s difficult to argue that these Republican-backed voter ID stipulations aren’t directly attempting to suppress voting among the low-income and minority voters of our nation. And because Republicans are unable to fabricate both morally consistent and publicly palatable support for their blatantly anti-democratic legislation, they instead fall back on cavalier campaigns of attempting to prevent voter fraud. But, looking at evidence collected from the past few years, this “voter fraud” claim fails to stand. The cases of fraudulent voting Republicans most frequently reference wouldn’t have even been prevented by the requirement of state-issued photo IDs. The few instances of voter fraud over the past few years that could have been prevented by voter restriction laws run at astounding rates like 0.0003 percent and 0.000009 percent.  These clearly inflated and inaccurate claims of voter fraud alluded to by Carson and Co. are an obvious effort to cover up the racially charged legislature Republicans desire to pass that disenfranchises legitimate voters from supporting the Democratic Party.

This Republican legislation is taking advantage of and disenfranchising vulnerable groups of society just to remove voting power from the Democratic Party.

A more recent evolution of voter ID laws has aimed the discrimination at a whole new constituency: college students, particularly ones that go out of state for school. Legislation is being pushed that doesn’t qualify IDs issued from another state as proper enough “state-issued IDs.” The Supreme Court precedent decision that protects students’ voting rights by allowing students to vote in the state where they attend college has been bypassed by these oppressive voter ID laws. Very few college students have the extra time and money required to get another state-issued ID. The New Hampshire House Speaker even admitted that the legislation sought to make it harder for students to vote in their college towns, and that the law was intended to discourage “foolish” kids from voting, because they tend to be more liberal.

Unfortunately, so many of the numerous discriminatory voter ID laws that are being pushed and enforced by Republicans remain in place, each with the potential to demoralize and de-democratize the American election system. The reality of the situation has progressed past parties simply “playing politics” and threatens to set a terrifying precedent for discriminatory laws in our country. This precedent is one that strays from the ideological conception of our democracy. As conscious citizens of our democracy we must take action towards producing an electoral model that allows for actual representation – the fact is that these atrocious proposals put forth by the Republican Party offer to do the very opposite.

Lokey is student from Louisiana studying Political Science and Philosophy at Columbia University in the New York.