I was reading a really interesting piece on this issue and was involved in a very interesting, albeit heated, debate on the issue, and think the voter ID issue is a serious matter, and should be reviewed and addressed quickly.
ALL states require some form of identification in order to determine your eligibility to vote. This is normal and should be encouraged, however, the recent uproar has occurred in states like Pennsylvania because of the new restrictive forms of identification, now required. Initially, I was a little perplexed by the uproar but an incisive article that addressed the remarks made by Republican Mike Turzai stated that Pennsylvania’s recent voter identification law would “allow Governor [Mitt] Romney to win Pennsylvania” in the 2012 U.S. Presidential election, makes it important to take a closer look at the issue.
I have listened to the arguments on both sides of this troubling issue of disenfranchisement but think it is quite odd that the best argument by those who oppose the PA law usually make is that the law is addressing a crime that does not exist. Huh?????
Emm…yes, it appears there are no known cases of voter fraud in PA, however the argument that no law should be made to prevent fraud from occurring in the future is jurisprudentially unsound and unsupportable. Laws exist to proactively prevent crime by identifying and describing proscribed conduct.
A law does not have to be passed reactively, so that its purpose is just to apply sanctions and other punitive measures. In fact, if you read up on Criminal Law, and the Spirit of Law, it is better that laws be made proactively. It is not the job of the state to set traps for its citizenry by not acting in a timely way to deter unwanted conduct. Law after all is supposedly the basis of order in society. I only say “supposedly” because I disagree, I think morality is the basis for the creation of order in society.
That being said, however, the fact that these laws are being passed in states with Republican governors is worrisome. In addition, why were some of these laws passed so close to a Presidential election year? No one has forgotten the nightmare of the hanging chads, and I still feel “bleary” eyed from having to read and analyze the myriad of cases on the Florida issue, before it meandered its way to the Supreme Court.
At the crux of the case now in the PA Court, is that the laws place an undue burden on minorities and the elderly. I am also quite well acquainted with the history of disfranchisement of minorities and enjoy the reasoning of the Court in case of Harper v. Virginia State Bd. of Elections, 383 U.S. 663 (1966). In this case, the Supreme Court, in a well written opinion, struck down poll taxes. The court opined that those poll taxes were in violation of the 14th amendment. Some argue that the new restrictions are the same as poll taxes. That argument appears somewhat valid since you have to make a payment of some sort to obtain the right to vote!!
Since it appears the Pennsylvania ID laws, and the laws in other states, unduly burden and affect a certain portion of the populace, should those laws not have been better written? Who writes these poor bills that are passed into law, anyway? And do the legislators/their staffers not read them at ALL???
Disfranchisement is described by US Legal.com as the taking away of voting rights. This can be done directly or indirectly. In this case, it appears, at least to me, to be an indirect assault on the right to vote. In addition, based on the history of suffrage in the U.S. one would have thought that more consideration would be given to the oppressive history of minority voting rights, and the appalling cases that chronicle minority disenfranchisement. With those considerations in mind, the bill should have been written in an equitable manner with the law creating exceptions for people who are unable to obtain those specified documents.
I know that people should be provided free government ID’s because voting is a RIGHT. However, I have wondered what we can do about those Americans in the older and minority communities who wear foil hats and huddle up online and elsewhere, in fear that the government will do them harm. 🙂 I don’t think they will accept free ID’s since they are so fearful of the government.
I think the most logical thing for states like PA to have done would have been to co-operate with the FEDS and update their rolls. At this time, it IS too late to prevent the consequences of those stringent requirements, and as any good lawyer knows, when a law is on its face inequitable because it unfairly impacts certain people in the population (adverse impact), that law is not good law and should not stand.
So yes, the FACT is we should have some sort of ID for voting purposes. The FICTION is that there is no political underhanded acts at work here. Again, at the risk of sounding a little shrill, the law should be STRUCK DOWN. And the lawyers who are fighting for the law to be overturned, I hope, give the courts the option of creating exceptions to the law so that hundreds of thousands of minorities and the elderly are not disenfranchised.