Pennsylvania’s voter ID law is just crazy

Honestly I thought all of this nonsense with voting rights was settled twice. First in 1865 and second in the 1960s. But voter ID laws have been popping up all over the country, it seems wherever a Republican legislature is to be found.

But, for one thing, there is not much voter fraud in this country. Mostly, all these laws mandating photo IDs and other proof of identity when you go to the polls to vote negatively affect the elderly and racial minorities who have limited access to photo IDs or birth certificates. Republicans claim that IDs prevent fraud. But in my home state of Pennsylvania where the latest farce is going on, even the Republicans admit there is no voter fraud problem in the state. People who go to vote are doing so legally.

The Attorney General’s Office of Pennsylvania admits there’s no voting fraud yet Republicans have enacted a new ID law that will negatively affect the poor, minorities, and the elderly. Some elderly people who have voted for decades will be unable to do so now. There are literally hundreds of thousands of voters who will be unable to vote because they have no ID.

The Pennsylvania law is the strictest in the nation. In order to receive an ID to vote you need a Social Security card, official birth certificate, and two proofs of residency. That’s just crazy. What about the homeless? What about the elderly whose birth records are ambiguous or not available?

Recently Pennsylvania Republican House Leader Mike Turzai boasted about the Republicans’ “accomplishments” this way:

“Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

Really? Isn’t it the job of any public servant to serve their constituents and the people? It’s not the job of the state to try to illegally influence an election.

Already a progressive movement is building to defeat the law. A lawsuit seeking an injunction has been filed, and protests have been taking place. A state court this week is hearing arguments on the constitutionality of the law. Hopefully it will be declared unconstitutional.

Voting is a right in a free and democratic society. Why then are we restricting civil rights? Those battles were fought long ago. Fortunately, the progressive movement is more than ready to rise up and fight against this attack on civil rights.

I remember my first time voting, in 2008, when I proudly checked the box for President Obama. I want other people of all races and ages to be able to have the same historic chances I did. To take that away is unjust, unfair, and undemocratic.

Photo: At the rally in front of the Pennsylvania State Capitol, July 24, in Harrisburg. Demonstrators protested the new voter ID law and set the stage for a state court hearing on a lawsuit seeking to prevent the law from taking effect this year. John C. Whitehead/The Patriot-News/AP



Michael Leonard
Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard spends his time writing for a variety of progressive causes. In his spare time he writes fiction.