While the new PA Voter ID law has been delayed and will not be enforced in this year’s election, officials at the polls will still ask voters to show valid forms of photo ID. However, voters are not required to do so. The new Voter ID law recently passed in the state of Pennsylvania required voters to show valid photo identification before voting. This law was met with much opposition, because many elderly, poor, or disabled Pennsylvanians without the means of transportation or access to information needed to obtain the ID would not have be able to vote. The law was estimated to disenfranchise up to 758,000 previously eligible PA voters. While the recent Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Decision did delay the implementation of the law on the grounds that the state did not adequately prepare to supply these 700,000 individuals with photo ID in time for the election, it currently still upholds the constitutionality of the law, and will begin to implement it in 2013.
While it is not so dire a situation now that the law is delayed, the fact that this law still lives and will be implemented in the future is still a concern to many Pennsylvanians. Many take issue with the fact that it disproportionately affects poor, minority, and student voters more likely to vote Democrat. For these reasons, the law is predicted to hit Philadelphia voters hardest.
Republicans on the other hand believe that this law will prevent voter fraud. However Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai is even on record saying that this law would help Mitt Romney win Pennsylvania. Regardless of one’s political leanings and the fact that this is no longer an issue in this election, a candidate should not achieve victory simply because hundreds of thousands of people were prevented from exercising their right to vote.
Equally objectionable is the state’s $2 million ad campaign which informs voters of the new law.
“If you care about this country, it’s time to show it,” the ad boldly states.
However, over 700,000 Pennsylvanians who would otherwise be eligible to vote will not be able to do so because of this law and some say that it insulting to question potential voters’ patriotism over a standard which they do not have the ability to meet. One could ask the creators of this law to “show” their evidence of the past voter fraud they point to as the reason for enacting such a law. They have none.
These ads are also very confusing in light of the recent court decision to delay the law. The state is now struggling to pull ads from over 20 TV networks, several billboards, buses, radio stations, newspapers, and websites. Rather than scrap the controversial ads altogether, the state hopes to “redirect” them so that they more clearly outline the voting procedures for this election, an effort that will likely add to the general confusion surrounding the law, and require several more million dollars.
By Elena Giannella