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Voting Rights and Voter Fraud

Voter fraud, voting rights and election security have been hot-button issues in U.S. politics since the nation's founding. Today, opinions about each are often divided on party lines; Republicans and conservatives often consider voter fraud a widespread issue, while Democrats and liberals typically do not.

Some see voter fraud as a widespread issue. Voter fraud has been alleged frequently in recent elections, in forms such as allegations of bussing out-of-state voters into different states, hacking electronic voting machines, impersonating voters and other methods. In May 2017, President Trump created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to address this issue, though it has since been disbanded. Many states have passed voter ID laws to attempt to address fraud, requiring citizens to provide a valid form of ID at the ballot box.

Skeptics argue that election fraud is rare in the US, and too infrequent to have a legitimate impact on voting integrity. When it does occur, they say, voter fraud typically involves absentee ballots or election officials, both of which cannot be prevented by voter ID laws. They argue that voter ID laws disenfranchise American citizens who lack government-issued IDs or do not have the resources to acquire one, and argue the laws disproportionately affect racial minorities and the disabled. Some characterize ID laws as instances of implicit racism.

Disenfranchisement of people with felony criminal convictions is another oft-debated aspect of voting rights. Maine and Vermont are the only states that allow prison inmates, probationers and parolees to vote. Virginia is the only state that permanently removes voting rights from people with felony convictions.

Voting rights for young people have also become a topic of debate in recent years. The 26th Amendment, passed in 1971, prevents laws that set a minimum voting age higher than 18.

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