Friday, June 29, 2012

Voter ID is vote suppression?

This week, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, a Republican, admitted that voter ID laws are all about suppressing Democratic votes.

"Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done," said Turzai in listing Republican accomplishments in his state in the past couple of years.

Voter ID laws have been pushed as a preventative to voter fraud that's allegedly skewed election results, but researchers who've studied the issue have concluded that instances of fraud are rare. Meanwhile, the new law in Pennsylvania could disenfranchise 700,000 voters that lack photo ID, half of them seniors.

The concept of requiring identification is supported by a majority of Americans because the concept that an election result could be the result of something other than counting legitimate votes is anathema to most people. And were this the real purpose of these laws, were there real vote fraud affecting our elections rather than the apocryphal stories about Chicago or Boston political machines voting the dead, photo identification requirements would make sense.

The truth? There are no machine-orchestrated vote fraud efforts. There is no legitimate rationale for voter ID laws. Most voters who will find it hard to obtain photo IDs vote Democratic.

Poll taxes and literacy tests were struck down because they blatantly suppressed the votes of African Americans and the rural poor. Voter photo ID laws have now been outed as aimed at the same voter suppression result.

If we really believe that voting is a value in American citizenship, it is time to remove these abhorrent statutes.

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