Friday, January 24, 2014

143.1 - Good news: Pennsylvania voter photo ID law struck down

Good news: Pennsylvania voter photo ID law struck down

As always, where there is good news, we start off that way.

Last Friday, January 17, Pennsylvania's voter photo ID law was struck down by a state judge as unconstitutional. Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley said the law unreasonably burdens the fundamental right to vote and the state had no convincing explanation for why it was necessary.

The legislative debate on the measure when it was passed in 2012 was the same as everywhere else this has come up: Right-wingers argued it was necessary to prevent in-person voter fraud - while being forced to admit, when pressed, that they had no evidence that such fraud was occurring and certainly not to anything near an extent that would justify the massive disenfranchisement of voters that would result. In fact, in the specific case of Pennsylvania, came up with precisely five confirmed cases of voter fraud of all types, not just in-person fraud - while at trial, the state's own witnesses said that by their own estimates somewhere between 320,000 and 400,000 already-registered Pennsylvania voters did not have the required ID and so would be barred from voting by the law.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom "Space Cadet" Corbett has asked the judge to reconsider while he thinks about his options, which could include an appeal to the state Supreme Court. He might want to bear in mind that this is the second time a Pennsylvania state court has delivered a smackdown over this law.

Witold Walczak of the ACLU, which helped lead the legal challenge, said "the act was plainly revealed to be nothing more than a voter suppression tool," a nation given extra credence by the recently-published research of sociologist Keith Bentele and political scientist Erin O’Brien of UMass Boston. They found that the states that have enacted tougher voter ID laws in the past few years are the same states where both minority and lower-income voter turnout had increased in recent years.

When they looked specifically at 2011, when many of these laws were passed, they found the three strongest common factors among those states were 1)GOPers controlled the state legislature and the governor's office, 2)they were likely to be swing states in the 2012 elections, and 3)minority turnout was up in 2008 and with high proportions of African-American voters.

In other words, as headlined it, the study "confirms every bad thing you suspected about voter ID laws" - that they are nothing other than attempts by the right wing to hinder the ability of blacks, the poor, women, and other historically disenfranchised and under-represented groups to vote. These laws are racist, classist, sexist, profoundly undemocratic, and bluntly un-American. Those who push them are only interested in maintaining their own privileged positions in society. I would say they should be ashamed except that their actions prove they have none.

There is some feeling in some quarters that this decision in Pennsylvania will strengthen efforts in other places to strike down or prevent the enactment of such laws. Now, that would be good news.


No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');