It's July 25. Do you have the proper identification card to vote on Nov. 6? When the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania Legislature approved Voter ID, we criticized the law as unnecessary, politically motivated and a bureaucratic boondoggle.
That's all panned out, and taxpayers are picking up the tab of $5 million to $11 million to educate voters and provide free IDs.
At a Republican State Committee meeting on June 23, state House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Pittsburgh, included the new Voter ID law among his party's legislative victories, because, he said, the new law "is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania."
The official rationale for Pennsylvania's voter ID law was to stop fraud, but there is no proof that election fraud is a problem in Pennsylvania. Voter ID law supporters quote selectively from "Building Confidence in U.S. Elections," a report written by former President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, and former Secretary of State James A. Baker, a Republican, after the disputed 2000 presidential election.
This report recommended using the proposed nationwide Real ID card at polls, but both Republicans and the American Civil Liberties Union oppose the Real ID card as an invasion of privacy.
Voter ID proponents also ignore the report's strong recommendation that citizen access to voting should be expanded, not narrowed, by removing "all unfair impediments to voter registration by citizens who are eligible to vote."
Previously to register to vote, documents such as pay stubs, leases or utility bills were acceptable, but the state's Voter ID law is strict. A college identification card must have an expiration date. Trade school IDs won't work, nor can you use an out-of-state college ID. Military IDs have some restrictions.
ID supporters also claim that you need a photo ID to get a library card, but in Erie County, acceptable IDs for library cards include a checkbook, W-2 form or auto insurance card. ID backers also like to argue that you need a photo ID to board a plane, but there are many voters (poor or elderly) who will never take an airline flight.
State election officials first guessed that about 1 percent of Pennsylvania residents would not have the proper ID to vote. Now after reviewing databases, officials say that 9.2 percent of registered voters do not have Pennsylvania Department of Transportation driver's licenses or photo ID cards.
Almost 11,000 currently registered voters in Erie County might be ineligible to vote on Nov. 6. (Some voters may have other valid types of IDs or may be inactive on the voter rolls.)
State Sen. Jane Earll, R-49th, supports voter identification, but opposed making the law effective for Nov. 6. One reason, she said, was that it made the law appear too political. She was right.
Commonwealth Court will hear a challenge to the law today. Educate yourself about Pennsylvania's law by visiting www.VotesPa.com or calling 877-868-3772.
Published July 25, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.