General Election

Are voter ID laws good policy? Will the laws impact the general election in November?

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According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a total of 34 states have laws requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. 33 of these voter identification laws are in force in 2016. West Virginia’s law, signed on April 1, 2016, goes into effect in 2018, missing the November general election.

In Pennsylvania, a law requiring voters to present photo identification was signed into law by former Gov. Tom Corbett in March 2012. However, the PA Commonwealth Court held that the in-person proof of identification requirements were unconstitutional. The Court’s ruling on proof of identification applied only to identification requirements for voters who appear to vote at their polling place – the ruling left in effect previous rules regarding identification requirements for first-time voters at the polling place. If a voter is voting for the first time in an election district, the voter must show proof of identification, either photo or non-photo identification. Returning voters need not show any identification.

Nothing is more fundamental to American democracy than the right to vote. As the November general election nears, how much of a difference could voter ID laws make in the results across the country? I read recently that some are speculating that voter identification laws could be the next “hanging chads” in the upcoming election.

On the issue of voter identification, I received an editorial from Dr. George Anderson of Devon, titled “The Importance of Voter IDs”. (You may recall that Dr. Anderson was a TE School Board candidate in the last election cycle. However, he withdrew from the race citing the work demands of international travel during the campaign season.)

Dr. Anderson supports identification requirements for voters —

The Importance of Voter IDs

For a nation to exist there does not have to be agreement on every issue but there does need to be a generally accepted set of civic norms;  the processes by which things are done. The perceived validity of the decision making process is in fact, more important than individual decisions. That is why the myth of “Cultural Diversity” is so dangerous.

It is not the fact that the concept of “All Cultures are equal” is demonstrably nonsense. If the myth of cultural diversity is accepted, the societal common bonds start to disintegrate, ultimately leading to competition between groups, social and economic chaos.

For a Constitutional Republic to exist there needs to be a general acceptance of the importance of the Law, the process which creates and upholds the law. Without such acceptance and obedience to the Law, at best we are a tribal society with each tribe competing to enforce it’s will upon the others.

Since the disappointing loss suffered by the Democratic Party in the 2000 Presidential election the division between Americans has been growing. There were Democrats who claimed the election was invalid even though there were multiple counts of the same ballots by members of both parties and witnessed by a judge. (Disappointing yes but invalid, no.) There were Republicans who claimed the 2012 election was invalid, with counties reporting more votes than registered voters and precincts reporting 100% participation and 100% straight Democratic vote. (A statistical impossibility.)

What you see very much depends upon where you stand. Attempts to institute voter ID Laws have generally been denounced by those on the Left as an attempt to restrict voting.  Those on the Right respond it is true, limiting the vote to one each for US Citizens over 21 is appropriate. The tragic truth is, if we cannot agree that American Elections should be limited to one vote per mature citizen then the divide in this country is truly wide and the civic norms which tie us together have become very tenuous.

The terrifying prospect is the logical conclusion to such civic separation.

Sincerely;
George E. Anderson III, PhD

 

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6 Weeks Until the General Election, Did Chester County Voter Services ‘Fix’ their Malfunctioning Voting Machines?

In 6 weeks, the voters of Chester County will go to the polls for the General Election.  Looking back to the Primary Election on May 17, do we have assurance from the Chester County Voter Services that there will be no repeat performance of malfunctioning voting machines?

Chester County Voter Services found irregularities in vote counts in over 100 precincts in Chester County due to equipment malfunctions.  But here in Tredyffrin Township, the outcome of the Special Election was dramatically affected by the malfunctioning machines.  If you recall, on election night, the results posted on the Chester County Voter Services website indicated that Molly Duffy (D) had a 44-vote lead over Mike Heaberg (R).  However, as irregularities in the Tredyffrin precinct counts emerged, a full manual recount was required.  It was discovered that 62 ballots were not counted by the voting machines. Adding to the mystery, was the discovery that all 62 uncounted ballots were Republican ballots.  In the final hand count, Heaberg emerged as the winner by a 2-vote margin.  Duffy and Heaberg, along with legal representation attended the manual recount and agreed to the reconciliation results.

But ‘why’ did the voting machines malfunction in the first place?  Do we as voters have an assurance that the problem has been corrected?  Is their confidence that our vote really will count on Election Day?

A follow-up report from Chester County Voter Services was published Friday, September 23 on their website.  However, it is interesting to note that the report is dated two months earlier — July 14, 2011.  Since the report is ‘To the Public’, wonder why it took so long for it to be ‘public’.

Chester County Voter Services conducted extensive testing. According to their findings, “It was discovered through our testing of those printed Republican Ballots that a dark blue “color bar” was printed outside the specified area on those ballots. Samples of these ballots were eventually sent to Election Systems & Software, Inc. in Birmingham, Alabama to review the specifications of the ballots printed by Dayton Legal Blank. ES&S was able to determine that the color bar printed on the Republican Ballots was printed outside the specified area on the ballot for any ES&S M-100 tabulator to properly function”.

The report further states “. . . the printed dark blue color bar printed on the Republican Ballots was the sole cause for the M-1000 to not read these invalidly printed Republican Ballots.”

In their closing remarks, the report from Chester County Voter Services states, “we will ensure that we maintain our electronic equipment on a routine yearly schedule and we will ensure our Primary Election ballots are printed in conformance with the ES&S ‘Color Stripe Specification’ ”

So we officially know ‘why’ the voting machines malfunctioned for the Primary Election – an alignment printing issue.

Voter Services promises that they will maintain the equipment on a yearly schedule.  I would feel more confident in the system if there was a degree of responsibility; plus assurance that they will run ‘test ballots’ through the voting machines prior to November’s General Election.

Elections are important and all votes count!  The ‘every vote counts’ importance was brought home to Tredyffrin voters in the Special Election race between Molly Duffy and Mike Heaberg where the winner was decided by 2 votes!

Mark your calendars for November 8 and plan on having your voice heard through your vote in the General Election.

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