A lower court in Pennsylvania upheld the State’s version of a voter suppression law. This is not only disappointing, but also surprising when you consider the facts.
As I wrote previously, the State stipulated that it didn’t know of a single case of in person voter fraud in Pennsylvania, or any other state. Moreover, the state stipulated that it would not offer argument or evidence that in-person voter fraud is likely in the 2012 election in the absence of the Photo ID law.
The Secretary of State notes that while she doesn’t know what’s in the law she’s supposed to implement, she does know that it doesn’t affect 99% of Pennsylvania’s electorate. This begs the question of whether the State is ready to implement the law.
Republican State House Leader, Mike Turzai, admitted that this law is about delivering Pennsylvania to the Romney/Ryan/Rand ticket.
Naturally, State House Republican Leader Turzai is delighted with the ruling, as reflected in his statement following the ruling. While he didn’t restate the reasons for his joy, he let that cat out of the bag already. He also conveniently over looked that the State stipulated to the non-existence of voter fraud in Pennsylvania.
It is unfortunate, but there has been a history of voter fraud in Pennsylvania.
“The elections in the Commonwealth will be on a more level playing field thanks to voter ID and other recent election reforms.
The level playing field argument only works if you consider a level playing field one that will likely prevent voters more likely to vote for your opponent from exercising their constitutional rights.
Despite all this, the Court upheld the law in a 70-page ruling.
Even while skimming the ruling, I saw some points of concern..
Aside from the fact that this is a law, ostensibly intended to address a non-existent problem, the court under estimated concerns about whether local officials would implement the law consistently and in a manner that would not result in discriminate.
It also failed to understand that the law would place a burden on low income voters when it comes to the costs associated with getting the required identification. Then even if there wasn’t an affordability issue, the question remains whether the State is equipped to get the required ID’s in the hands of voters. Perhaps there were witnesses who offered credible evidence that the law would affect 99% of voters. However, if the court was relying exclusively on the Secretary of State’s testimony, I have to question the court’s wisdom. How can someone who is unfamiliar with the law know who it would affect and how?
All this said, the Court did follow precedent by applying the Supreme Court’s Crawford Standard. Whether we agree or not, and whether the standard is flawed or not, applying precedent is how court rulings are done in this country.
Then there’s the applied challenge issue. This is an expensive process. Lawyers cost money that the people who would be adversely affected by this ruling simply don’t have. Given the previously stated concerns about this law, it is likely that people will fall through the cracks and there is no means for them to seek a remedy.
It is possible that there could be Appeal of this ruling. Even if there is an appeal, the Appellate court is likely to be deadlocked given the ideological composition of the court. As a result, this ruling would stand.
It is also possible that the Department of Justice might step in. For now, we have to assume that this law will be in effect in Pennsylvania.
If you live in Pennsylvania, please be sure that you are registered to vote. You can confirm that here.
If you are not registered, you need to apply for registration. The deadline for applying, under Pennsylvania law is 30 days prior to the election. You can find the voter registration application forms and further information about how to register and where here.
You also need to get ID that is acceptable under the existing law.
The ID must have a date of expiration.
A Photo ID issued by the Federal government or the State of Pennsylvania.
A Drivers license or non-driver ID issued by the State of Pennsylvania.
A Valid U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. Military ID.
Employee photo ID issued by the Federal Government, Pennsylvania Government, Pennsylvania Count or a Pennsylvania Municipal Government.
A Photo ID from an accredited Pennsylvania post-secondary educational institution. These include private or public colleges, universities, seminaries and community colleges.
A Photo ID from a Pennsylvania care facility, which includes long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities or personal care homes.
You can find further details about Pennsylvania’s voter ID requirements here.
You can all call the Department of State’s Voter ID Hotline at 1-877-VotesPA (868-3772).
If you don’t have the required Voter ID, you are allowed to cast a provisional ballot, but you still have to provide a photo ID or an affirmation from your county elections office within six days of voting for your vote to count.
The best option would be an overturning of the Photo ID law. But barring that, it means being prepared so that the Republicans will not be able to steal your vote and steal the election.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.