When I was about 10 years old, I remember signing up my name to have my first ID — a Brazilian general registration identification, known as R.G.
The large, green, squared identification card contains a person’s photo and name on the front and the person’s parents' names, the person’s native city and state, the person’s birthday, a registration number and an expiration date on the back.
At the time, I was not mature enough to fully understand the meaning of always keeping a photo identification within reach. But I remember that I felt officially part of something greater than myself.
Also, my parents have taught me to have a current form of photo identification with me at all times in case a tragedy would happen to me or in case I got in trouble. That way, they would be notified right away.
In the 21st century, various forms of identification have become very important in the United States. You need different forms of identification, for example, to book a hotel room, to travel outside of the country, to buy alcohol, to purchase student discount tickets, to open a bank account, to take standardized tests such as the SAT and to do many other things.
Even though I did not have to, last year I went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to apply for a state photo identification card. This identification didn't grant me a citizenship of any sort.
Yet I wanted to, once again, feel part of something bigger than myself. I value having a photo ID anywhere I go.
Many states and groups in the United States have been debating if it is right or even constitutional to ask voters to present a form of photo identification before they can cast their ballots. The discussion has gotten to a point that it seems to have become an anti-Republican issue, because recent states that have passed the law are dominated by Republicans.
Currently, 30 states have laws in place that will require all voters to show IDs at the polls this November, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And Pennsylvania is one of those states.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation says a valid photo ID is one of the following: U.S. Federal Government ID, a state driver’s license or non-driver’s license photo ID, a valid U.S. passport and a U.S. military ID for active duty and retired military.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, acceptable IDs also include a form of photo identification from “an accredited PA public or private institution of higher learning,” among others. To be accepted, identification has to contain a person's name, photo and an expiration date.
I am in favor of the ideas shared by many that the photo ID in this context is an extra barrier to assure that only American citizens will be voting.
Since 2001, nearly 1,000 bills have been introduced in a total of 46 states concerning photo identifications, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
On the other side, there are people whose opinions are similar to those expressed by Keesha Gaskins on PBS Newshour. On the program, the senior counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School said the ID requirement might inhibit the access of students, minorities and senior citizens to vote on Nov. 6. She said up to 4.7 million American voters lack a photo ID.
I am not in favor of any legitimate voter in any democracy being left behind by any source of barrier. In the case of the photo ID requirements, there are alternatives to the voters who lack an identification.
If valid ID is not provided, most states issue a provisional ballot. People who show up without photo ID at the polls are allowed to cast a provisional ballot that is counted after proof of identity is offered.
Additionally, if you don't have one of the now necessary Pennsylvania forms of identification you might be able to get a free piece of identification at a PennDOT Driver License Center, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State website.
If I were an American citizen, I would feel elections are safer knowing that every voter would have gone through two checks instead of just one before casting the vote.
Also I would feel citizens would be securely assured of their rights and no impediments would emerge with proper identification.
When dozens of privileges request the use of a photo ID on a daily basis, it makes sense to ask American voters to show identification when they go to the polls.
Eric Visintainer is a senior majoring in print journalism and is The Daily Collegian’s Thursday columnist. Email him at email@example.com.