The year-end article about the Voter ID Law neglects some very important facts. True, the law creates only minor inconveniences for most voters, but for thousands of Pennsylvanians it is a major obstacle to exercising their fundamental rights as citizens of a democracy.
First, has anyone ever shown that voter fraud even exists in Pennsylvania? The answer is No. There has never been a single documented case of in-person voter fraud in a Pennsylvania state election. There are already state and federal laws on the books against fraudulent voting. So, what’s the problem? Why do we need this new law at all?
Second, it’s true that most Pennsylvanians have ID or wouldn’t have trouble getting it. The people Ms. Regan interviewed obviously fall into that category. But for some surely not among her interviewees, obtaining acceptable ID would be very difficult.
People who have no birth certificates, women who have never worked at a job outside their homes, some individuals with special needs, the elderly and disabled who have difficulty with transportation or those who are too poor to afford it-these are just a few of the types of people who have a legal right to vote, but could be deprived of that right by the Voter ID Law. These citizens are a minority, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to vote.
Plaintiffs in the suit against the Voter ID Law brought by the ACLU, the NAACP and the League of Women Voters were just such people. One was a 93 year-old African-American woman from Philadelphia who has voted for more years than most of us have been alive, but has never owned any kind of ID. Three others were elderly African-American women born in the Jim Crow South, who never had birth certificates.
Another was an elderly white veteran who has no ID other than his veteran’s ID card, not acceptable under the new law. There was a disabled woman who uses a walker, who can make the couple of blocks to her neighborhood polling place, but is unable to get to a PennDOT office miles away. Another was a Doylestown woman whose application for ID was rejected because the only proof she has of her married name is an old certificate in Hebrew. These, and thousands of others, would likely be unable to vote if the new law is enforced.
Third, in an era of tight dollars this law is a huge expense. Publicizing and enforcing it costs the state government millions of dollars, to say nothing of expenses in the State Legislature. Legal and court fees add thousands more. The costs to private citizens will be substantial, and will hit the poor and minorities most of all.
The Voter ID Law was passed by Republican state legislators who hoped that it would prevent some categories of people who usually vote Democratic from getting to the polls. It’s similar to the old poll tax laws, written to keep minorities and the poor from voting, long ago declared unconstitutional. This isn’t the way democracy is supposed to work. Every qualified citizen should be allowed -encouraged! – to vote, and that right should be protected.
Arno Vosk, M.D.
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom