The Georgia Voter Identification Requirement: Is it a Form of Voter Disenfranchisement?
Type of Degreedissertation
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As an American citizen, my observation reveals that access to the franchise has been prohibited or limited for African Americans and the poor since 1863. Congress and the Supreme Court have been consistent in their legislation and rulings that assume voting rights are given and made equally accessible to all American citizens since the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. However, there remains a gap in the current literature regarding modern-day tactics and forms of voter disenfranchisement. For some, voter photo identification requirements, particularly those outlined in Georgia Law O.C.G.A. § 21-2-417, are an early 21st century version of voter disenfranchisement for the poor and minorities. To others, it is perceived as a method to prevent voter fraud. In this qualitative study, I explore the historical voting experiences and practices in the United States. Secondly, I examine the political culture and voting climate in Georgia, a pre-clearance state that has a strong and consistent legacy of disenfranchisement in its voting practices and regulations. A primary focus of this study is to explicate the rationale and explore the language used to promote the passage of the Georgia Voter Identification Legislation. Through the use of a case study approach nested within the context of a policy analysis, legislative records and proceedings, documented hearing(s) testimonies from various federal and state officials, inter-office memoranda, party-affiliated media resources, and periodicals were analyzed extensively and chronologically to better understand the arguments of this legislation. Findings from this research will clarify the rate of voter fraud in Georgia while highlighting its voting practices to determine if voter disenfranchisement remains prevalent in the United States. This research and findings will make an important contribution to the existing literature as it goes beyond the surface of the legislative and political rationale of voter photo identification requirements and practices, and should enhance election reform initiatives by exposing the realities of voter disenfranchisement.