Why on earth did our state legislators pass a voter ID law? There has never been a single case of in-person voter fraud prosecuted, or even investigated in Pennsylvania. The new law will deprive thousands of citizens of their right to vote. Those deprived of their right will be mostly poor, old, members of minorities, disabled, and female.
Impersonating someone else in order to vote in a state election is already a crime in Pennsylvania, carrying a sentence of up to 5 years in prison. Impersonating someone when voting in a federal election carries a sentence of up to 10 years. Voting isn't like driving, which is technically a privilege the state gives to people who are qualified. It's a fundamental right of all citizens of our nation. It doesn't depend on race, sex, education, whether or not you have a birth certificate or access to transportation.
Those who will lose their right to vote in Pennsylvania will be people who don't have drivers' licenses or passports, who can't get official copies of their documents, who don't have transportation to get to PennDOT centers to get ID (several counties in Pennsylvania have only one PennDOT center in the entire county, open only 1 or 2 days a week), who can't get to Department of State offices to get alternative ID's, and women who can't document a change of their last name.
There will be many people who don't understand the voter ID law and won't bring proper ID to polling places. A huge burden will be placed on poll workers, only a small minority of whom have been trained to enforce the new law, who will be responsible for deciding what is or is not acceptable ID.
After the election people will turn to the courts when they believe they've been deprived of their right to vote. The whole electoral system could be disrupted for months. This law will cost our state millions of dollars to enforce, money which our state budget can ill afford to waste.
So what will the voter ID law accomplish? Remember, there are already state and federal laws on the books against voter fraud, and this crime has never actually been committed, to anyone's knowledge. The only voter fraud that has ever occurred has been with absentee ballots, which the new law doesn't even cover.
So why did our Republican legislators pass this law? Because they believe that those people who will lose their right to vote under this law - the poor, minorities, senior citizens, the disabled and women -may tend to vote Democratic. A prominent Republican legislator said months ago that he expects the voter ID law will deliver the state's electoral votes to Mitt Romney. Is this legal? Is it right that Pennsylvania's elections should be decided by depriving citizens of their right to vote? Our Republican legislators apparently don't care how they win, even if it's by disenfranchising citizens, depriving them of their most fundamental democratic right.
Arno Vosk M.D.
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom