PA Voter ID Could Fire Up the Dems

Posted by By at 21 August, at 07 : 59 AM Print

Opponents of Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law say about 10 percent of the state’s voters will be disenfranchised by the requirement that they show a state-approved picture identification if they want to vote in November. And most of those unable to vote, opponents of the law say, are more likely to be Democrats.

That is the goal, opponents say of the law, and Pa. House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) would seem to agree. He boasted in June to the Republican State Committee that the voter ID law “is gonna allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

Gerrymandering a state’s districts to improve the strength of the majority political party is a time-tested tradition, so we should not be surprised at this latest tactic. Still, it should turn Democrats out in droves to counteract the effect of the law, helping people register and vote.

I live in a Republican County. I’m guessing, from experience, most likely voters were not exceedingly concerned when the Voter ID law was enacted, and at least some of them cheered when the law was upheld.

“(But voters of both parties and independents) were pretty furious once they found out they’re on the governor’s hit list,” said Adams County Democratic Committee Chairman Roger Lund. The “hit list” contains names of registered voters who do not appear to have valid PA driver licenses.

He said 2,000 people in Adams County were on the list of presumably ineligible voters; 1,100 of them are Democrats. The list included people who went by their middle name except on their driver license; an elderly woman who moved from another state to live with her son; and college students who are registered to vote but do not drive.

“I think voting rights are something that we’ve fought for for a long, long time,” Lund said.

I agree.

The Voter ID law looks innocuous on its face. What could be the problem with asking people to prove their eligibility to vote? After all, we can’t have people slipping across our borders or rising from their graves to cast ballots. The Commonwealth said in court that has not so far happened, but you can never tell when will be the first time.

I remember when there were poll taxes and exams required to prove one’s qualification as a legally voting citizen. If, for instance, you could not pay the requisite tax, you probably were not one of the educated, informed, (and probably white), class of qualified electors.

And in some jurisdictions, if you didn’t know where the Eiffel Tower stood, you certainly did not know enough about world affairs to cast an informed ballot.

Never mind you were a successful, if poor, farmer. If you had not gone to the right school, you could not vote.

Some change happens slowly; no one with power is eager to give it up.

“ … in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors.” Abigail Adams wrote to her husband while he was about creating a new nation.

That was 1776. In 1920, we finally gave women the right to vote.

During my tenure on the planet, I have witnessed numerous outcries directed toward those who would have a national identification card. Such an affront was OK for the less civilized and freedom-loving of fellow nations, but we would not be subjected to such insult. Next thing, we’d have checkpoints at state lines, and we had spilled a lot of blood fighting off the chains of rulers who placed such demands on their constituents.

But computers arrived, effectively creating a single national identification network from 50 apparently differing documents. One group at a time, more of our citizens are thus identified.

Now we have a rash of new laws requiring yet another group of our citizens to acquire proof that they have a right to be here, and to participate in the governing of our nation.

Across the state, party leaders are manning phone banks, setting up car pools, and generally working to prevent their constituents from being disenfranchised on Nov. 6.

In the days immediately following Mitt Romney’s announcement that Paul Ryan would be the Republican veep candidate, many of the Washington pundits said Romney was keeping Ryan out of Florida because of his record on Medicare. This weekend Ryan showed up at Florida’s largest retirement community, with his mom.

If he can convince Florida retirees that Obama is the one going to gut Medicare, and that he, Ryan, would never hurt his mom’s program, he wins – maybe not the election, but certainly that argument.

Politics can be fun to watch, except when the players cheat.

I’m not a big fan of nit-picking phrases spoken off the teleprompter.

But when Mike Turzai stated the purpose of the Voter ID law, it didn’t seem a mis-speak. He thought he was in friendly company, among people who agreed with him. Still, it’s surprising he said it for the cameras.

If that doesn’t bring out the opposition, probably nothing will.

Photo by pennstatelive

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This post was written by:
- who has written 169 posts for Rock The Capital
John Messeder is an award winning journalist with more than 35 years experience writing about education, environment and local government issues. He has lived in Maine, Florida, California and Alaska, and, by temporary turns, numerous places in between. John also is an accomplished photographer, and avid hiker, conservationist, oral history buff, and author of several books he has not yet got 'round to writing. He lives in Adams County, Pa., just over a hill from Gettysburg, with his wife and Golden Retriever. He may be contacted at john@JohnMesseder.com - Email jmesseder

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