Today there are very few issues that seem able to cross party lines, but one that I thought would never divide us has become a partisan hot button issue: insuring a citizens’ right to vote. In 2011 a number of Republican State Legislatures passed voter ID laws requiring every voter to present, on Election Day, a valid form of photo identification that includes an expiration date. If a voter does not present a valid ID, they must cast a provisional ballot. Then, within six days, they must appear in person at the county board of elections or send an electronic facsimile of an approved ID.
When the Pennsylvania state Legislature passed Act 18, the PA Department of State released a statement claiming that 99 percent of PA citizens who are eligible to vote already possess a valid ID that complies with the new regulations. However, in a July 2012 article The Philadelphia Inquirer cited a study by the PA DMV that found 9 percent, or roughly 758,000, registered voters do not possess proper ID. Then, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette estimated the number at 1.8 million, which is clearly higher than the originally published numbers by the Department of State. According to a New York Times article from around the same time, the impact of just the conservative estimates could result in a 2.4 percent drop in voter turnout. Not only is this is a disenfranchisement of many voters but could mean an estimated 1.2 percent swing towards Republican candidates. that “The new voter ID law will enable Mitt Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania,” said Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Republican Mike Turzai at a meeting of the Republican State Committee.
These estimates are all beside the fact that there have been no recorded cases of in-person voter fraud in the state of PA ever. Sadly, the new voter ID law is only the most recent of stringent restrictions on PA voting. PA already has no early voting, no Election Day voter registration (registration is Oct. 9th), no no-excuse absentee voting and recently rejected the idea to allow online voter registration. State Legislators should never stand behind biased, partisan legislation that disenfranchises registered voters and inherently aids one party or another. Voting is not partisan but rather a citizen’s truest form of speech in a democracy.Voting is a citizen’s fundamental right; it shouldn’t be a complicated process subject to whims of partisan politics.