Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Victory in Pennsylvania

An important victory today in favor of maintaining the ability of everyone to vote. If I'm reading today's opinion of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court correctly, the court is saying that the state's new voter id law requires that voters be able to obtain a valid id card freely and easily. Yet the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation cannot give out these id cards as readily as the new statute requires, because of legitimate security concerns raised by the prospect of issuing photo id cards to anyone who asks for one.

That doesn't seem to allow much room for the lower court to find that Pennsylvania's strict voter id law can be implemented this election cycle. Unless the state can come up with a way to speedily issue id cards to everyone who is entitled to vote, which the DOT does not seem capable of doing, they will probably have to accept alternative forms of identification, similar to what other states with voter id laws do. And that means that it will be harder for the proponents of voter id laws to carry out their real objective, which is to depress turnout so as to favor Republican candidates.

According to most polls, Pennsylvania seems to be safely in the president's column this fall, so these restrictions will probably not accomplish their intended effect anyway. Nevertheless, cheers to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for this helpful precedent supporting the right to vote, which sends a clear message to other states, about the dangers of placing obstacles in the way of exercising the franchise.

1 comment:

  1. The real message to other states is that there are reasonable ways to require voters to identify themselves without depressing turnout. That is the key. I don't care if it takes time to implement; as long as it is done fairly and all parties protected.

    That message is almost lost in the other party line rhetoric.