The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recently passed a voter ID law. Passed on party lines (Republicans for, Democrats against) it headed for state court, as these things tend to do. The basis of the law is the position that before you vote, you should have to prove your identity by showing a photo ID.
Those in favor of the law argue that it will prevent fraudulent votes being cast. There is no evidence that there is an epidemic of voter impersonation going on, but that is the fear cited in justifying the new requirement.
Those opposed to the law argue that it will disenfranchise numerous legitimate voters, who are too poor, infirm, or disabled to acquire photo IDs. The ACLU and other voting rights groups suing to have an injunction blocking the law brought a number of witnesses to testify that they would be unable to comply. Interestingly, they could manage the logistics of making a court appearance and testifying, but would be unable to manage the logistics of getting to a DMV office to procure a state photo ID. Still, when you ask someone to lie to you, don’t be surprised when that is what they do.
Since you cannot cash a check or buy a drink without ID, it does not seem an unreasonable burden to ask for proof of ID when casting a vote. And this is pretty much what the judge found, when he ruled that the new law could go into effect. Neither side proved their case, and the legislature passed it, so it goes into effect.
Two thoughts on this issue:
First, I’m not sure that it’s a good thing for the Democrats to be taking their side of the debate. At least, not from a branding perspective. “Join the Democrats! You too can be a member of the party for people who are too feeble to get a driver’s license.”
On a more serious note, the Democrats are in favor of allowing voter registration to take place when you get a driver’s license. Republicans are in favor of retaining the current dual system of keeping voter registration separate from the DMV. They oppose so called motor-voter legislation.
Using driver’s licenses as a form of ID required to vote erodes the Republican rationale, at least from my way of thinking. After all, if getting a driver’s license is a prerequisite for voting, why not allow the registration to take place at the same location. It seems to me the Democrats should embrace the need for photo ID, and then turn that against thte Republicans.
If it were up to me, I’d restrict the franchise to tax payers. By tax payers I mean people who belong to households that actually pay in federal income tax. Otherwise, what’s to stop people from voting themselves benefits out of the public treasury, and thereby bankrupting the nation.
Oh, wait. We’re pretty close to that now, aren’t we?