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Windows open for voter fraud

Leading up to the election, and even after, the opposition to common-sense voter protection laws has increased. The argument, however, has not been framed around a problem with the policy; rather, the focus has been on trying to explain that such legislation is not necessary.
I often hear opponents to voter identification laws claim that such laws are unnecessary because voter fraud does not exist. Their basis for this claim is that few cases of voter fraud have been proven and prosecuted.
This is equivalent to claiming that if police do not catch a robber, then the robbery never happened.
However, the push behind photo identification laws is not in response to proven voter fraud. It is a response to the open windows that could lead to voter fraud.
For instance, there have been multiple reports of Colorado counties that had more registered voters than voting-age population. Some of these counties had voter rolls that were bloated to 140 percent of the voting-age population.
Many of these counties in Colorado are filled with people that either only live there for part of the year or only stay a few years for work before moving on. Thus, it is not implausible for there to be a realistic explanation of the bloated rolls. However, this is a huge window for voter fraud that could easily be prevented by photo identification laws.
Nonpartisan research group Pew Center on the States released data earlier this year that estimates over 24 million voter registrations — 1 in 8 — are inaccurate, out of date or duplicates. On top of that, it is estimated that nearly 2.8 million people are registered in more than one state, while another 1.8 million are deceased yet still on the rolls.
The American voting system is filled with vulnerabilities that may or may not currently be exploited. So, why is such legislation that can greatly decrease that vulnerability so opposed?
This is analogous to preventive health care measures that are currently gathering momentum in the medical field. People are starting to realize that even if they do not have any signs of problems, it is better to do routine checkups and work to prevent health issues rather than take a chance that none will develop.
Photo identification laws do the same thing. The claim that these laws are solutions in search of a problem is fallacious. Such legislation is a solution to a potential problem. After all, who wants to risk a problem developing that could have been solved with common-sense legislation?
A common refrain from voter ID supporters is that photo identification is needed for so many other daily things, like cashing a check, buying cigarettes or alcohol, purchasing a firearm, boarding a plane or train and even applying for welfare benefits. Opponents will be quick to point out, though, that voting is a more dearly held right than the others.
The flaw with this reasoning lies in the low voter registration and turnout ratio. If voting was truly a more dearly held constitutional right than buying alcohol or bearing firearms, then those ratios would be far higher than they really are.
Even so, if voting is such a dearly held right, then should it not receive the most protection from potential fraud, whether that fraud has been proven or not?
Let’s ensure that our elections eliminate all room for potential fraud by shutting the windows left open in the process as it stands now.

Trenton Winford is a public policy leadership junior from Madison.