The postponement of the voter ID in Pennsylvania is a fantastic victory for American people regardless of political parties. The postponement was not due to the constitutionality of the law but rather the impracticality of it; specifically in regards to the difficulty Pennsylvanian citizens were having attaining an ID that would allow them to vote.
The law might not have been such an intrusion on the rights of American people if access to proper identification was easier and in theory it doesn’t sound like a terrible idea. But in actuality, the law would have been taken away the rights of eligible citizens and would have been created with the intent to marginalize large groups of people — particularly underprivileged people — would have lowered the number of voters in the 2012 election, and wouldn’t have solved an actual problem anyway because voter fraud is a seriously uncommon crime.
According to a study done by the New York Times in 2007, between the years 2002 and 2007 there were 120 documented cases of voter fraud resulting in 86 convictions with the problem mostly being incorrectly filled out forms or mistaken impressions about an individual’s eligibility to vote.
In a nation of over 300 million people, 120 people makes fraudulent voters a whopping .0000004 percent of Americans.
A study from NYU’s Brennan Center shows that about 11 percent of American citizens over the age of 18 who are completely eligible to vote do not have the identification the voter ID law would have required and thus, regardless of whether or not they had exercised their right to vote in prior elections, would be unable to vote in the 2012 presidential election. There are a lot of reasons why some people don’t have photo ID including a lack of access because of where they live and financial issues. Not everybody is spoon-fed a driver’s license their sophomore year of high school.
Is it really necessary to even attempt to disenfranchise 11 percent of voters to prevent .0000004 percent of voters from committing a crime that statistically will not have any effect whatsoever on the outcome of the election?
There isn’t a fair or good reason why people who are in a situation where they do not have or do not have access to a photo ID should not be allowed to vote if they otherwise meet the requirements of voter eligibility and to suggest otherwise, especially considering the infrequency of voter fraud cases, is criminally un-American.
This whole issue has been hotly debated as a problem between two political parties. Regardless of the fact that Pennsylvania is a swing state and lower turnout to the polls in our state has typically resulted in a higher number of Republican votes, both political parties should, as Americans, have a problem with this blatant infringement on the equal rights of representation every citizen is entitled to.
Democracy literally means “rule of the people” and in a democracy, all eligible citizens should be allowed a voice in the doings of the government. It doesn’t matter if this voice is voting for Mitt Romney or Barack Obama or for what reason it likes and dislikes any of the candidates.
It doesn’t matter if this voice votes for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or belongs to a person who walks into the voting booth and is stunned into silence because they didn’t realize Ron Paul didn’t get the Republican nomination this year.
It doesn’t even matter if this voice is essentially rendered symbolic by the immensely flawed electoral college.
It’s great that the voter ID law won’t effect the 2012 presidential election, but if IDs allowing eligible voters to cast their vote aren’t readily and easily available, the law shouldn’t ever go into effect. It shouldn’t even be a question.
Not in Pennsylvania, not anywhere. At best it’s a solution to a problem that isn’t there and at worst it’s a classist attempt to prevent worthy citizens from being a part of what a lot of Americans consider one of our greatest rights and freedoms.
We can’t claim to be a nation of opportunity if we’re a nation that also puts a discriminatory barrier in front of our voting booths.
Sarah Moesta is a junior majoring in English and is the Daily Collegian’s Friday columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org