Thursday, July 05, 2012

Pennsylvania Voter Identification Law: Let the Whining Begin!

Simple rule: No photo ID, no voting booth
Here's the headline: "Stringent voter ID law in Pa. could prevent 750,000 from voting." But if you look behind the numbers the headline is misleading. Here's the report:
New data released by Pennsylvania officials suggests that as many as 750,000 voters in the crucial battleground territory could be impacted by a stringent new voter ID law.

The law, passed this May ostensibly to prevent voter fraud, requires all voters in Pennsylvania to show a valid photo ID at the polls.

Among those acceptable forms of photo ID include a state-issued driver's license, a valid U.S. passport, a U.S. military ID, a government-issued employee ID, an ID card from an accredited Pennsylvania higher learning institution, or a photo ID card issued by a Pennsylvania care facility, such as an assisted living residence or personal care home.

According to the survey, 758,939 voters - 9.2 percent - could not be matched in state databases as having Pennsylvania driver's licenses, the most common form of photo ID in the state.

Of those 9.2 percent, about 22 percent - or 167,566 people - are categorized as "inactive" voters, according to the data. A person can be characterized as an "inactive" voter if he or she has not voted in five years and has not responded to a state inquiry about his or her current address. Federal and state law also mandate that an "inactive voter" be kept on the state registration list until he or she fails to vote in two consecutive general elections for federal office following the notification.

"Even though many voters identified in this comparison as not having PennDOT IDs are 'inactive voters', most of whom have not voted since 2007, we will err on the side of caution and include them in this mailing," said Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele in a statement released alongside the study.

Even if voters are classified as "inactive" with 100 percent accuracy, however, that leaves nearly 600,000 "active" voters who lack driver's licenses and may not be able to cast their votes on Election Day.
Or, if I were to write the story with a different slant:
Approximately 600,000 prospective voters in Pennsylvania need to get off their butts and find their way to a government office at which they can be issued a free photo ID capable of meeting the PA voting standards. "If they are too lazy or inept to get this done, it is doubtful that they should be voting in any case," said I.M. Ahack, a voting analyst from the University of Upper Yursnow, who continued, "After all if they can't find time between now and November to get a photo ID it's kind of sign of a lack of interest, don't you think?"

Another 167,566 former voters seem to have disappeared from the state as they haven't voted in PA in over 5 years and also haven't responded to state efforts to see if they are interested in voting. "Some of them may have moved out of state, gone to prison or died," theorized S.T. Atfreq from the voter registration section of the Demopublican party. "If they have died or moved, it'll be harder to get them registered, I suppose. Given that 750,000 total number reported by PennDOT only refers to those "voters" without driver's licenses it is possible that this whole report is a joke, because there are so many other forms of acceptable ID that some or all of these people may have. After all, I think you need some sort of photo ID to do everything in our society, like have a bank account, travel on an airplane, enter a federal building, and the like, so I think these numbers are way off."

The forms of ID allowed under PA law:

Acceptable PHOTO IDs include:

1. A PA driver's license: currently valid or expired less than 12 months at the time the voter is casting a vote.

2. An ID issued by PennDOT: currently valid or expired less than 12 months at the time the voter is casting a vote.

3. A currently valid U.S. passport. Expired passports will not be accepted.

4. An active duty or retired U.S. military ID, including an ID for members of the PA National Guard: an indefinite expiration date will be accepted.

5. A currently valid military dependent’s ID. Expired IDs will not be accepted.

6. A currently valid employee ID issued by federal, PA, PA county or PA municipal government. Expired IDs will not be accepted.

7. A currently valid ID issued by an accredited PA university, college, seminary, community college or two-year college to students, faculty, employees and alumni. Expired IDs will not be accepted.

8. A currently valid ID issued by a PA care facility (such as a long-term care nursing facility, assisted living residence or a personal care home). The ID must have the name of the facility. Expired IDs will not be accepted.

B. What are acceptable IDs for voters With a religious objection to being photographed?
Voters can still vote by presenting a currently valid non-photo driver’s license or other non-photo ID issued by PennDOT. Expired IDs will not be accepted.

C. How can voters obtain a photo ID if they don’t have one?
Unless PennDOT has information about a voter in its computer database, as explained in Question D. below, voters who do not have an acceptable form of photo ID (see Question A. above) must go to a PennDOT Driver’s License Center to obtain one. This process is free of charge.
IN ADDITION, voters must produce:

1. A social security card, and

2. An official birth certificate (with a raised seal), certificate of U.S. citizenship, certificate of naturalization or a valid U.S. passport,* and

3. Two proofs of residency, such as a lease agreement, mortgage documents, W-2 form, tax records or current utility bill. Note: Voters who still live at home may not have their name on any lease agreements or mortgage documents. The voter should bring a person with whom he/she are living, along with that person’s driver’s license or photo ID, to a PennDOT Driver’s License Center as one proof of residency. For the second proof of residency, the voter can show a bank statement, paystub or credit card bill.

*As indicated in Question A. above, a valid U.S. passport is an acceptable photo ID to bring to the polls. Any voter who has a valid U.S. passport does not have to obtain a photo ID for voting. However, since a valid U.S. passport is listed as one of the proofs of identity on the state’s website, we are also including it here.
So, free ID's with some proof of residency and proof of citizenship.

I can see how that is really a burden . . .


  1. The correct response to any lawsuit challenging this law is, "Piss off, [optional personally derogatory expletive]!"

  2. Anonymous8:03 AM

    good to know that you support poll taxes to keep those people from voting --- why risk your policy preferences to the votes of all citizens --- much easier to exclude voters than to convince them...

    1. I guess, carried far enough, having to cross streets at crosswalks is a form of taxation, as is being forced to wear clothes or go to school, registering to vote, registering for the draft, etc.

      Speaking of school, did you ever learn the US Supreme Court held in 1937 that poll taxes were legal, which was overruled by a Constitutional amendment for federal elections and finally by a series of Supreme Court rulings in the 1960's for state and local elections?

      Do you know that the Supreme Court upheld the validity of requiring a photo ID to vote in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (2005)? This, in the face of the very argument you attempt to make that the photo ID requirement is some sort of "poll tax?"

      As for my "policy preferences" - they include fair elections at which all eligible voters can participate. Any exclusion involved in this matter seems to be one of "self exclusion" given the de minimis burden of acquiring a free photo ID.

    2. You might also want to take a look at the Carter-Baker report Building Confidence in U.S. Elections
      Report of the Commission on Federal Election Reform
      September 2005
      which contains the following:
      "Second, to make sure that a person arriving at a polling site is the same one who is named on the list, we propose a uniform system of voter identification based on the "REAL ID card" or an equivalent for people without a drivers license. To prevent the ID from being a barrier to voting, we recommend that states use the registration and ID process to enfranchise more voters than ever. States should play an affirmative role in reaching out to non-drivers by providing more offices, including mobile ones, to register voters and provide photo IDs free of charge. There is likely to be less discrimination against minorities if there is a single, uniform ID, than if poll workers can apply multiple standards. In addition, we suggest procedural and institutional safeguards to make sure that the rights of citizens are not abused and that voters will not be disenfranchised because of an ID requirement. We also propose that voters who do not have a photo ID during a transitional period receive a provisional ballot that would be counted if their signature is verified."

    3. "Do you know that the Supreme Court upheld the validity of requiring a photo ID to vote in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (2005)?"

      That is overstating the holding of Crawford. The Court did not hold that photo ID laws are per se Constitutional, but rather held that the plaintiffs who challenged the Indiana photo ID law had not come forward with enough evidence to show that the law violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Justice Scalia highlighted that in his concurring opinion: "The lead opinion assumes petitioners' premise that the voter-identification law 'may have imposed a special burden on' some voters, but holds that petitioners have not assembled evidence to show that the special burden is severe enough to warrant strict scrutiny." So if different plaintiffs came forward with solid evidence on the burden issue in some future case, the Court could easily reach the opposite conclusion.

    4. Well, my reading of the case is the court did not hold that photo ID laws are per se unconstitutional but may be upheld even if there is a slight burden on some people because of a overwhelming state interest in fair and honest elections, more specifically in preventing voter fraud and impersonation.

  3. Anonymous9:52 PM

    I have started making a list of ordinary things that people do all the time that require photo id. Examples include: getting medical care, get on an airplane or train, enter a federal building or military base, check into a hotel, go to Michelle Obama's book signing, get into a hospital as a visitor, and on and on.

    The fact that photo id is too much of a burden to vote is bull sh*t. It is probably one of the most effective means of preventing voter fraud.

    Of course, it might not prevent all fraud. For example, my father died six years ago. He was a lifelong Democrat. My brother is a Junior. He could show a photo id and claim to be Dad. I wonder who Dad will vote for in November.

  4. Several voters -- all citizens (one a veteran) who are registered to vote and have been voting for years -- sued to challenge the PA Photo ID Law because they do not have have and, more importantly, cannot obtain one of the approved forms of photo ID. You can read more about it here: http://freeandequalpa.wordpress.com/summary-of-applewhite-petition/

    1. Read the link and wonder how these 6 have survived in modern society without birth certificates, which, in my experience, are required to join the military, go to school, get a job, get social security, etc.

      That being said, states have a "delayed" birth certificate process if the person never had one issued at birth. Thus, it is a misstatement to state that "six of the petitioners simply cannot obtain one of the forms of ID that they will need to vote under the Photo ID Law, and will be unable to vote in any future election"

      As I said above, let the whining begin.