Last Thursday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments over the state’s strict new photo ID law; the state law that was passed to allegedly prevent fraud. The provision of the law requires a voter to present a government-issued I.D., or any other I.D issued by the state, at the time of voting. If a voter cannot provide any of these credentials, then they will have to cast a provisional ballot until their vote is supported by a photo I.D. In the event that the voter cannot provide the documentation, their vote will not be included in the electoral process.
Interestingly enough, the State of Pennsylvania has not shown any evidence of voter identity fraud to justify this law. There haven’t been any indications of fraud in any of the Pennsylvania districts. So why would Tom Corbett sign this piece of legislation into law? When Gov. Corbett signed the law in March, he claimed that the purpose of the bill was to protect the integrity of the democratic process. But, at a meeting of the Republican State Committee in June, the House majority leader, Mike Turzai, boasted that it would “allow Governor Romney to win the State of Pennsylvania.”
This law could have dangerous ramifications if it stays intact. For example, in Philadelphia, one fifth of registered voters may not have the necessary identification to vote in November. State-wide, about one tenth of voters may not have it. If you have a politician on record as saying that this voting regulation may help a certain political party (Republican Party), then you have to examine the integrity of the legislation.
It can be very difficult to receive an identification card if you don’t have the necessary documentation, time, or money. Certain variables can factor into a person’s ability to get an I.D., such as where the person was born and if they have a birth certificate or not. As part of an investigation, a local Fox news station in Philadelphia reported the difficulty of getting a state identification. If you are a law-abiding citizen, then the electoral process should be simpler than what Gov. Corbett is making it out to be. Even if you do have your I.D., we should consider that there are those in neighboring areas that may not have theirs. Should we just leave them out of the voting process? This is what the law sets out to do.
Your partisanship should not matter when assessing this law. Democrats, Republicans, and third parties should unite against this harsh law. One ideal we all yield to is the fundamental right to vote if you are a good citizen. Voting allows us to voice our opinions about what good government should be. It’s difficult enough attracting younger voters and this law will not help matters.
State Judge Robert Simpson ignored a motion by voters and civic factions to block the law. They contended that the mandate would strip the fundamental right of voting from disadvantaged groups. Simpson did note that he was applying a 2008 Supreme Court decision that upheld Indiana’s voter I.D law. Indiana’s law is not as strict as Pennsylvania’s and it was easier to apply the Constitution to that case. However, this law places a burden on the voter and it calls into question the fairness of the upcoming electoral process. The case relates to other voter I.D. cases in Missouri and Wisconsin, and they were struck down because of the strict provisions that were behind the law.
If you do not have a government-issued photo identification you should get one now to make sure that you will be able to vote in November. If you are a student and you do not have an I.D., you can go to Boyer Hall and purchase one to satisfy the state requirement.