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The minimum qualifications to vote in the US have remained the same for decades. The voter must be over the age of 18, a legal US citizen, and registered to vote. To ensure privacy, ballot stations typically have dividers between voters, and photography of any kind is prohibited. In some states, however, these requirements are not enough, and identification laws have been passed to supposedly prevent fraud. Suspicions regarding voter fraud are not uncommon in some of the most significant elections in United States history. In accusing individuals and elections of voter fraud, prominent figures in the Republican party as well as within presidential administrations have held specific motives. According Lies, Incorporated by Ari Rabin-Havt and Media Matters, these motives range from thirst for political power, to money, to discrimination, and to cultural or political philosophies. Typically, the argument revolves around the ways liberals use the power of voter fraud while conservatives use identification laws to misinform and interfere in elections. This sets the perfect stage on which the media can hide behind misinformation when reporting on political parties’ influence on voter fraud, attributing the outcome of elections to identification laws, and portraying them as more common than they really are.Ari Berman’s piece in The Mother Jones, a typically liberal source, is one of the many examples of misinformation regarding identification laws. Berman is a writer for the Nation Magazine (a magazine typically biased with a liberal point of view), and in his database cover story “Reckoning: How Voter Suppression Threw Wisconsin to Trump, and Changed the Election”, he outlines the unintended consequences behind voter identification Laws and requirements. Berman states that although the republicans’ intention for the identification regulations is supposedly to limit fraud, individual voters often suffer serious repercussions from them. The piece opens with an anecdote, serving as an appeal to emotion, as it tells the story of a woman named Andrea Anthony who was one of the many voters who was tragically barred from making her mark as a citizen, because of an expired license. Because she was unable to meet the new stringent identification standards in Wisconsin, she felt that she contributed to her state’s overall lack of turnout and favor towards her competing candidate Donald Trump. According to Anthony, voting was her outlet for expressing her political opinion as she stated, “I know I have a little, teeny, tiny voice, but that is a way for it to count” (qtd. In Berman 24). Bermans uses Anthony’s testimony as a symbol of pathos to create a feeling of sympathy towards her, and the thousands of other voters in Wisconsin. Although the article creates a somewhat compelling argument in terms of ways identification laws contributed to the overall turnout in Wisconsin, it also presents serious instances of misinformation. It proposes that Donald Trump’s success in Wisconsin was the result of low voter turnout. In addition to committing the “Ad Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc” fallacy, Berman goes on to suggest that the laws in Wisconsin and their impact went unnoticed and that the media portrayed Clinton’s loss in Wisconsin as part of the shortcomings of her campaign. Berman’s bias is clear, in stating that the impact of the laws were intended by the Republican party and hidden by the media, “Voter Suppression efforts were practically ignored, when they weren’t mocked” (Berman 26). This serves to deceive the readers, and fact check sites such as Politifact contradict the criticisms to the Republican party. Politifact makes the distinction that although suppression was prominent in the 2016 elections, there are many other factors that contributed to Clinton’s loss. These factors range from overall distaste to her platform, and the lack of campaigning in Wisconsin. This ties into the argument presented in Lies, Inc., as it shows the importance of looking into facts, before believing claims that liberals were using fraud and identification laws to strategically control election results. The conservative side to this political race for power over elections presents a different perspective. In a clearly biased article in the American Conservative (as the name suggests, a typically conservative viewpoint) by Robert Verbruggen entitled “Do New Voting Rules Swing Elections”, Verbruggen justifies his argument, that voting regulations from the democratic side are not as valiant in lowering voter fraud while keeping elections fair as many think. Verbruggen opens with a comparison, of various attempts from both the Democratic and Republican parties to have an influence on elections. According to Verbruggen, it is inherent in the competing political party system for both parties to “change voting laws merely to benefit themselves, and different voting patterns between rich and poor and black and white help them do it” (Verbruggen). There is evidence of this specifically in North Carolina elections. When the democrats gained power, they took advantage of the natural party preference and loosened the reigns on voting rules in their favor, allowing early voting to appeal to the high population of African Americans attending church the Sunday prior to voting day in North Carolina in 2011. While this may have led to multiple democratic successes, it was rivaled by almost equivalent republican intervention in state elections in 2013. Republicans took similar actions by reversing the laws put in place by the Democrats and requiring photo identification for the 2016 election. Acts on both parties sides led to scrutinization, claiming the rules either favored African Americans as a large portion of the population of voters, or restricted their voting executions altogether in the Republican’s case. The bias in Verbruggen’s argument, however, lies in his analysis of the repercussions of these actions. He suggests that when the Democrats intervened, they received little to no criticism, while the Republican laws were characterized as illegal. By referencing Hans von Spakovsky, the article attempts to appeal to the confirmation bias of its largely conservative audience. Further investigation into Spakovsky’s ideals shows that he portrays the Democrats as having an unfair advantage, where they have the political power to change laws regarding voting in their favor to gain support and win elections, but victimizes the republicans, stating that their efforts to control race representation in voting are viewed as illegal. This supposed inequality in the overall response to the liberal interference is a classic case of misinformation.This conservative bias was further justified with a response from the appeals court which Verbruggen described as an amazing feat that “even attempts to lessen racial inequities were apparently illegal when those inequities favor blacks instead of whites” (Verbruggen). Verbruggen and Spakovsky commit the fallacy of ad hominem attack, in misrepresenting the backlash the Democrats received for their attempts to take over elections in North Carolina. Much like in Lies Inc. Verbruggen makes a reference to Spakovsky and his views on political party’s interference in identification laws. While Spakovsky is a supporter of identification laws, his reputation for igniting debate over Democrats committing voter fraud to win elections is prominent. His history of being accused of bringing political biases into the Justice Department by instituting Identification laws to win elections in the EIC is mentioned in Lies Inc., but the distinction in his intentions are key. Spakovsky contacted Lies Inc, representatives, and referred to their statement that ID laws result in disenfranchisement as “flawed” (qtd. In Rabin-Havt and Media Matters 136). This ties into Verbruggen’s article, where Spakovsky yet again expresses his refutation for the idea that ID laws hurt turnout, and attacks the opposing side in accusing them of fraud, and saying they receive no reprobation for meddling in elections. Fact check sources can vouch for exposing Spakovsky misinformation, as Democrats did receive criticism for playing to the strengths of race to get more votes in the elections in North Carolina. In a Politifact article, Amy Sherman investigated the liberal reactions to conservative identification laws in North Carolina, and found claims that they quietly accepted the laws to be mostly false. Contrary to Spakovsky’s belief that Democrats are responsible for the cases of fraud, and their policies serve to render ID laws extinct, the facts remain that responses to the ID laws were fairly comparable to the changes made by the conservatives. The sequence of events began with the ¬†Democrats issuing the law that allowed early voting, followed by significant protests, republican’s responding by ending the early voting allowance and instituting identification laws, which also received opposition. Politifact states that the law “drew weekly protests at the Capitol known as ‘Moral Mondays'” (Sherman). Claims that all the laws passed had the power to swing entire elections for a state were also debunked previously, as many factors contribute to a candidate’s success. The article as a whole neglects to show the larger picture, that the foundation of our democracy lies in the citizen’s hands through their votes. Obstructions to this constitutional right, or conversely, anything that gives an extra advantage can be considered a threat to democracy. Naturally, the liberal reaction to the conservative laws hides behind misinformation as well. In an article in the New York Times, which appeals to the liberal perspective, Richard Fausset sets the scene for the conservatives by discussing the lawsuits they had received for gerrymandering districts in North Carolina, revoking the early voting law, and making it more difficult to vote through identification and other laws. The article is not entirely biased, as it acknowledges the fact that Democrats were also guilty of having redrawn district lines in a “partisan” way, likely to create more districts with a large population of african american voters who usually vote in favor of the Democrats. However, the general reaction to the conservative laws was phrased by the Times as “part of a long tradition here of disenfranchising African-Americans” (Fausset). Disenfranchisement is one of the main driving forces that serve to undermine democracy. In stating that conservative laws work against the ideals of the country, the article commits the straw man fallacy, with a serious case of misinformation. Fausset presents the conservative laws under a negative and false light, which can be disproved by fact check sites.According to an article on PolitiFact by Janel Davis, the only way identification could be considered racist in disenfranchising only African Americans, would be in terms of the financial costs associated with acquiring a photo ID. Overall, PolitiFact suggests that voter turnout, like election results, are more nuanced. Although identification was correlated with a lower turnout for the North Carolina elections, the claim that they were racist in disenfranchising specifically African Americans was rated to be likely false. As PolitiFact debunks this argument, they note that the general cost (dollar amount, and time), to get an ID is “more an inconvenience than a hindrance” (Davis).By hiding behind the phantom idea that voter fraud is rampant in today’s society, political parties are able to institute identification laws under the pretense that they are protecting elections. This is a clear example of misinformation surrounding discussions of fraud in elections in North Carolina and Wisconsin. Margaret Groarke asks the pivotal question in “The Impact of Voter Fraud Claims on Voter Registration Reform Legislation”, as to how often cases of fraud are found, and whether or not they have an impact on election results. In this neutral piece, Groarke, a professor at Manhattan College, provides hard facts and statistics regarding real cases of voter fraud. As Groarke acknowledges the urgency regarding fraud cases which prompted the need for stricter identification laws, she makes an important distinction that fraud cases are rarer than administration tends to believe. She also shows how ID laws hurt turnout, directly opposing Spakovsky’s argument.She states, “even at the height of the George W. Bush administration’s full-court press to prosecute voter fraud in 2005, only 60 cases were brought” (Groarke 572). Although the elections in the US have been known to stray towards debates in the registration and voting process, Groarke evaluates past reforms that attempted to reduce overall fraud. In debunking previous laws that created problems such as the same day registration chaos, or the easily forged postcards, Groarke provides an interesting point of view for her readers. Her audience includes those who vote and are impacted by voter legislation and claims of fraud, and her claims rest on the idea that that instances of voter fraud are not as commonplace as the Republican party suggests. Groarke exposes the all too common conservative argument that voter fraud is rampant, and largely committed by the democratic party (a belief held by Spakovsky himself). This ties into the argument presented by Ari Rabin-Havt and Media Matters in Lies Inc., that immigrants and minorities are not behind voter fraud, and that investigations on the matter often show that instances of “fraud” are isolated, lack criminal intent, and fail to fall under the U.S. Department of Justice Standards to be classified as fraud. How then, do voter ID laws pose a solution to the supposed issue? According to Groarke, identification laws solve one problem: the few cases that were reported as voter impersonation. The number of these, however, is even less than the proportion of actual cases of fraud, as investigations between “2000 and 2014 identified only 31 credible incidents” (Groarke 573) of impersonation. Although the statistical evidence Groarke presents appears to be neutral, she outlines specific political motives for each party’s decisions and legislations. Fact check sites (such as FactCheck.org) are in accordance with her claims, that typical minority groups such as immigrants, unregistered voters, and those from low-income communities are likely to favor democrats. By making it more difficult for these people to vote, the conservatives are in actuality making an attempt to get fewer people who favor democrats to vote altogether, lowering the voter turnout. Groarke supports this argument with quotes from previous scholars such as Richard Cloward who have examined the crux of political biases and legislations shaping the demographics of the electorate as a whole, as they link the “interaction between the changing patterns of party competition and the rules governing party organization and voter participation” to ¬†“the decline in voter turnout” (qtd. In Groarke).Groarke’s findings are credible, as she presents logos and ethos in her claims. It is clear that there is a direct correlation with the legislation of voter ID laws and lower turnout, although we cannot generalize that the reason for this is for racial preferences. In addition, it is evident that voter fraud is rare, and cannot be responsible for swinging elections. In investigating the role ID laws play in determining the outcome of an election, we must also take into account the factors that go into voters decisions. If identification laws and minor instances of fraud, without criminal intent, cannot swing entire elections, which voting decisions make the largest impact on elections? In “Information Distortion and Voting Choices: The Origins and Effects of Factual Beliefs in Initiative Elections”, a psychological study on voting decisions, Chris Wells outlines three main ideas that form the basis of how citizens typically vote. These ideas are that citizens reflect on trends that comply with their mindsets, vote for those who appeal to their own cultural and political biases, and act on false beliefs or attitudes towards certain issues. The purpose of identifying the voters intentions is to try to establish a relationship between the voters accepting misinformation in the media and news and their subsequent policy preferences. The intended audience for this piece is the population of voters, which encompasses those who vote based on connection to a candidate, biases alone, or on research and values. Chris Wells, one of the authors, is an Associate Professor of Journalism, with a credible background in evaluating public choice and politics. This piece provides an interesting perspective to voting and common fallacies surrounding public opinions, as it suggests that even truth can fail to overcome the confirmation bias and political biases within voters.Attempting to resolve the issue of misinformation surrounding voting is a daunting task. The political biases in each state differ, and as a result, the media reflects different standpoints in each election depending on who is in power. I feel that the one commonality during general elections, is the pamphlet citizens receive, outlining propositions, candidates, platforms, and general voting information. If the US were to release statistics regarding voter fraud in the Voter Information Guides, the idea that fraud is rampant in society would not be as common. In addition, if the exact rules to identification laws in each state were released and advertised ahead of time, rather than being hidden to ensure people have difficulties in registering, ID laws would not hurt turnout as they often do today (as stated by Groarke). As of today, the voting system throughout the United States varies by state. Although the details for each state’s requirements can be found on US government-mandated sites, many citizens without access to the internet, or computer knowledge would be unable to prepare for voting day. These government approved information outlets hold the most relevant, unbiased information in terms of voting rules and regulations. In an age where news sites and media sources are heavily biased, I believe that advertising the specific identification rules, such as requiring a valid driver’s license, or social security card, should be advertised ahead of time. The state legislatures should be focused on informing as many citizens as possible and creating awareness to maximize voter turnout. Rather than allowing greed for political power and money use ID laws to gain an advantage, it is important for us as a nation to realize that voting is a constitutional right. The governmental system set in place for hundreds of years is meant to be elected for the people and by the people, as a statute of democracy. Thus, anything that disenfranchises or bars citizens from making their mark in society is a threat to the ideals of our nation, and the foundation of our democracy.

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