Amended House Bill 934, the vote ID bill passed the state Senate yesterday and is on its way back to the House. In a state where there are major budget shortfalls that are forcing reductions in many programs, how is it possible that there is money for this new government program – Pennsylvania voter identification legislation is unnecessary and unaffordable.
There is no evidence that there is fraudulent voting in Pennsylvania that showing a photo ID would solve. HB 934 will disenfranchise thousands of senior citizens, disabled, working poor and students. Not only will the bill eliminate voters from exercising their Constitutional right to vote, but also it would cost Pennsylvania approximately $4.3 million to implement.
Looking for another reason that HB 934 should not pass, how about unconstitutional? According to Steve Shapiro, an attorney and Judge of Elections for Tredyffrin W-1, House Bill 934 violates the Pennsylvania Constitution. Please read the following comment that I received from Steve:
Two things happened this week relating to this issue. First, the Senate yesterday passed an amended version of HB 934, which will now return to the House, where it almost certainly will pass. According to news reports I’ve read, Governor Corbett likely will sign the final bill into law. Second, on Tuesday, a state court Judge in Wisconsin enjoined Wisconsin’s voter identification law because, he held, it likely violated the Wisconsin Constitution (http://media.jsonline.com/documents/Voter+ID+injunction.pdf).
The Wisconsin opinion led me to look at the Pennsylvania Constitution and, sure enough, it appears that HB 934 violates Article VII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The email below, which I sent to Representative Kampf last night, explains why:
I understand that HB 934, as amended by the Senate, is on its way back to the House for a vote. I am writing to express my grave concern that the proposed law would violate the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Article VII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides that: “Every citizen 21 [now 18] years of age, possessing the following qualifications [relating to citizenship and residency], shall be entitled to vote at all elections subject, however, to such laws requiring and regulating the registration of electors as the General Assembly may enact.”
As I understand this provision, any qualified voter (i.e., a citizen that meets the residency requirements) who has registered pursuant to the registration laws enacted by the General Assembly has a Constitutional right to vote. HB 934 would prohibit a registered voter who meets the qualifications set out in the Pennsylvania Constitution from voting if he or she does not have proper identification. As such, it would appear that the proposed law would violate the Pennsylvania Constitution, and I am concerned that, if HB 934 is enacted, my fellow poll workers and I will be required to enforce a law that infringes the Constitutional rights of our neighbors.
I urge you to look into this issue before voting on the bill.
Judge of Elections, Tredyffrin W-2″
Thank you Steve for your thoughts on HB 934. If you are concerned about the voter identification bill and wish to contact State Rep Warren Kampf, his email address is: Wkampf@pahousegop.com
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I for one am not happy that time and money is being spent to address non-existent (or is it made up) issues. I’d rather see our representatives addressing issues that concern Pennsylvanians rather than forwarding nonsense from a partisan think tank.
It seems to me that Steve Shapiro, and all Judges of Elections are sworn to uphold the Constitution. If the new voter registration law violates the Constitution, he is sworn NOT to enforce it. Q.E.D.
While this may be true, I wouldn’t want any Judge of Elections to put themselves in peril as it relates to the possibility of legal action. These positions are basically volunteers and no one in these positions should be forced into costly legal proceedings for choosing to enforce or not enforce a voter id law. Finally, if this becomes law it is just that until the courts say it isn’t. This means a Judge of Elections making his or her own decision on whether or not to enforce would be breaking the law until/unless a judge declares it unconstitutional.
As for me, I see merits on both sides of the issue. I don’t consider it disenfranchising since there is a mechanism for all voters to meet the requirement. Inconvenient, yes, but not disenfranchising. I also think any conscientious voter would be willing to comply just to guarantee the legitimacy of their vote by legitimizing all votes.
Our oath of office requires us to enforce “the provisions of the Constitution and law of this Commonwealth.” What it does not say is what we are supposed to do when the two conflict. Quite the conundrum.
Until the courts tell you that it is unconstitutional there is no conundrum. As a lawyer I know you understand that.
It is true that, if a voter sued me for violating his Constitutional rights by enforcing the Voter ID law or if I was prosecuted for violating the Constitution by prohibiting a qualified, registered voter from voting because he did not have ID, the existence of the Voter ID law would provide me with a defense. But having a defense is cold comfort to someone forced to defend against a civil or criminal suit.
If the Voter ID bill becomes law, every poll worker will be faced with the prospect of having to defend against civil or criminal suits alleging that they violated the Constitution by enforcing what appears to be an unconstitutional law. That is a conundrum. The way poll workers should respond to that conundrum is, as you suggest, a no-brainer: Poll workers should enforce the Voter ID law in order to avail themselves of the defense that they were enforcing a properly enacted law that had not been found unconstitutional. But the existence of that defense doesn’t make the conundrum any less a conundrum.
can someone clarify what this bill would mean at the pols? When is this ID supposed to be shown? when you sign in?
Yes. The bill says the voter must show an approved form of identification before they may sign in.
vote – a talking point written in stone. He needs to hear from his constituents who oppose this bill.
Finally, the most important reason to oppose the bill is this:
Voting is a fundamental, constitutionally protected RIGHT.
Cashing a check isn’t. Getting on a plane is not. Neither is buying a bottle of wine. Millions of people in this country live without a government issued ID. Many work, pay taxes and use public transportation. Others may be home-bound, disabled, never traveling anywhere.
Requiring current voters to prove their identity in order to vote is an unnecessary and for some, costly barrier that may disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians – and change the outcome of an election.
We all know the purpose of this onerous new law – coming as it does in time for a presidential election of a Democratic incumbent. To rig the vote. To ensure that some people will be closed out of the process.
Republican – run Harrisburg is pushing this bill through because they can. They don’t even pretend there’s a valid reason.
I for one have been and continue to be amazed that I am permitted to vote without having to provide any evidence, however minimal, to demonstrate that I am the person who is registered to vote and entited to do so.
The notion that there are thousands of voters who have no identification, in this the 21st century, seems to me to be beyond credulity. To continue to permit voting without identification to me poses a greater risk of election fraud.
You are required to sign the poll book and the poll workers are required to compare your signature to the authorized signature in the book. If the signatures do not match, the voter is considered “challenged” and must: (1) provide an affidavit of his identity, and (2) produce a qualified elector from the district to sign an affidavit vouching for his identity. Also, any poll watcher can challenge the identity of a voter. When that happens, the poll workers follow the same 2 step affidavit procedure as above. See Pa. C.S. § 3050. If the challenged voter cannot procure a qualified elector to vouch for him, he can complete a provisional ballot. Voter Services will then hold a hearing to determine the validity of the challenged vote after the election and, as a result of that process, either accept or reject the provisional ballot.
Kate, without voter Id how would YOU prevent voter fraud, even if it doesn’t supposedly happen here. How do you know that? I think Pattye mentioned that in her opening
while voting is a right, as you say, how do you protect the integrity of the process and protect the rights of those who show ID against the potential of fraud. Whose rights are more “right”
I am sorry but it is common sense to me that we should be required to have ID as voters. There are countless ways to meet the requirement. I openly question the honesty of anyone who thinks it is a bad idea.
If the proposed law violates the Pennsylvania Constitution, whether it is a good idea or a bad idea is irrelevant.
Kate – who lives here without any ID? Please use some real life examples. I don’t believe it and I don’t buy it.
Oops, Pattye. The first half of my comment is missing.
I am a committeeperson. I am aware of voters in my precinct who do not have valid ID’s. But the problem is that they do not have the documentation necessary to go to the DMV to get them. Birth certificates, social security cards and marriage license documents as well as acceptable proofs of residency are not necessarily easy to come by or free in some cases.
What is hard to understand? In Tredyffrin, an affluent community, this may not present a major burden for many people, but it will for an estimated 700,000 currently registered Pennsylvanians – about half of them seniors who have voted for decades.
What is the justification for disenfranchising voters WHEN THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF VOTER IMPERSONATION IN PENNSYLVANIA?
There is none. It’s all politics.
I am sorry for the repeated posts but this issue really irks me. Especially, when people try to manipulate the issue by using classifications like “elderly” and “disabled”. I know plenty of people in both categories and they ALL have ID’s. Every single one of them. Again, I want it explained to me how this is such a hardship exactly. It seems to me that one side wants to retain “flexibility”. Show ID, then vote. Simple.
About 2 dozen cases of voter fraud in PA since 1978. Unfortunately none of them would have been prevented by a photo ID. The issue isn’t whether this would be a burden for the majority of us. The issue is whether there is a reason to do this at all and to spend millions of dollars in doing so.
So we have a system that works pretty darned well. A system that does cause some votes to not be counted because of address discrepancies, signature discrepancies etc. And the reason for implementing this great fraud preventing scheme – according to Carole Aichelle “to build the confidence that Pennsylvanians have in their election process.
So that you know – studies have shown that there are roughly 700,000 people in PA who do not have a photo ID. And perhaps for some it would not be hardship to get a free photo ID. I’d be much more open to it if it can be shown that there is a need to do so.
The opinion from the Wisconsin case (there is a link to it in the original post, above) gives examples of specific hardships and discusses studies showing that more than 200,000 people in Wisconsin do not possess photo ID.
You want a real life example? My brother has Downs Syndrome. He does not have an official government photo ID. He votes in every election. If this law passes, he will have to get an ID. Basically, I’ll have to take a day off work to take him to get an ID. Not everyone in a similar situation can easily go get an ID.
I call BS! I have a cousin with Down’s who has ID. This is absurd. There are numerous ways to obtain an ID.
Common sense needs to prevail. Just like on guns where I favor tighter regs. Common sense.
I did not say that he can’t get an ID. I am just pointing out that it is not necessarily easy. My brother is fortunate that I can afford to take a day off work to take him to get an ID. My point is that not everyone is that fortunate. Some disabled do not have the family support. Others simply cannot afford to lose a days wages.
“About 2 dozen cases of voter fraud in PA since 1978. Unfortunately none of them would have been prevented by a photo ID.” Isn’t this is exactly why we need the ID requirement. No one can believe that there have only been 2 dozen cases of voter fraud. It would seem like people are just getting away with it.
I don’t see how Article VII, Section 1 can be interpreted to say that requiring an idea would be unconstitutional. “subject, however, to such laws requiring and regulating the registration of electors as the General Assembly may enact” would seem to green light just such a measure. It would seem like saying a registered elector must be in possession of a government issued id would be appropriate.
The current system is archaic and ridiculously slow. I would love to show my photo id and swipe the magnetic strip through a card reader and get to voting. Maybe if we took advantage of technology we could speed things up and increase participation.
A law requiring a voter to show ID at the polling place is not a law that regulates the registration of electors. If the law required voters to show ID when they REGISTERED, that would be a different story.
Here is another way to look at it: If a voter shows up at my polling place and is in the book, that means he has registered — that is, complied with the “laws requiring and regulating the registration of electors as the General Assembly [has] enact[ed].” But if that same voter doesn’t have proper ID, he is then denied his Constitutional right to vote, despite the fact that he meets the Constitutional qualifications for voting (citizenship and residency) and has complied with the registration laws.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court has made clear that Art. VII, Section 1 only gives the Legislature authority to regulate voter registration: “Art. VII, § 1 conditions qualifications of electors on those laws which the Legislature may enact requiring and regulating voter registration.” See Martin v. Haggerty, 120 Pa. Commw. 134, 140, 548 A.2d 371, 374 (1988).
So your conclusion is this lack of evidence is exactly the reason we need to do this? Well there is just no arguing with that logic.
John, agree on the 700,000 figure; it’s also what PenDot has reported. And virtually NO voter fraud – just a couple of cases.
This bill passed 26-23! Only 3 republicans voted agianst it. Having watched most of the Appropriations hearing yesterday; much of the time was taken up with the requirements of provisional voting under the bill and its mechanics. There isn’t a real hardship to what I’ll call a normal provisional ballot we’ve used in the past; but according to the hearing; under this bill you have only 6 days to provide ID requirements to the court after voting provisionally. That I do feel is a hardship on those who may not have a state issued ID, did not request a non-driver ID after they stopped driving; do not have a birth certificate (a fee to get a copy) and most likely do not have a passport. I keep my expired license when I get my renewal in case it’s lost, but that won’t be an acceptable form of ID in order to vote – it’s expired. And the ID must be current – not expired. Sure you can get a PenDot issued ID at no cost, but you still need proof of who you are.
The implementation of Voter ID is this year’s General Election – who are they kididing? Not only are there usually long lines, but now there will be an additional delay. I’ve seen voters leave my polls if there are exceptionally long lines and not return. If they had any sense, which they don’t, they’d start with next year’s Primary (2013) as a dry run.
The Senate made some changes to the bill; hopefully they addressed some of the major stumbling blocks; but I’m still unhappy the state legislature even considered it.
Lawrence Husick, another local attorney weighs in on the constitutionality of HB 934:
“properly registered” can include an ID.
Wow, that’s a bit of a churlish letter. Perhaps people would get better responses and civil debate if they didn’t put forth sarcastic, vaguely WW2 screeds and instead used reasoned discourse.
I am especially impressed, however, with the attorneys who have chosen to decide what is and isn’t constitutional on their own. I guess we don’t need the courts anymore, just ask your local patent attorney!
So someone, be it an attorney or otherwise, who is concerned that a law violates the Constitution should not express that concern until a court rules that the law unconstitutional? How do you think the issue gets in front of the court in the first place? A court cannot just wake up one morning and declare a law unconstitutional. It only can rule on issues that are presented to it by concerned citizens.
Steve and Kate —
Anyone who has a concern with a law that violates the Constitution should most definitely express that concern and I applaud you for doing that.
My point throughout has this has been two-fold:
1. Regardless of your opinion (even though you are an attorney) or my opinion or anyone else’s, until such time as a court of law deems this unconstitutional, it IS constitutional and the law of the land, and should be followed.
2. Because of point 1, I would tell you that if the law says check ID’s that’s what you do, regardless of your opinion of the constitutionality of that law.
Yes, I agree this is a conundrum, but following the law (regardless of your opinion or even if you think it is inane) is what you must do. It is my belief (as I said earlier) that you will be more likely to be drawn into a lawsuit for not following the law than you will be for following it.
Further, if you are drawn in (and I sincerely hope you are not) then I believe you have a defense for following the law, but do not have a defense in saying “I believe it’s unconstitutional.”
My problem is not the voicing of opinion, it is the absolutism with which both the attorneys make their argument. They do not get to decide, the courts do. If, as citizens, they wish to sue if this legislation passes that is their right. But, until a court rules, they are no more right about the constitutionality than any person on the street.
FTW — I appreciate both the content and reasoned tone of your March 10 @ 4:40 pm comment and, in fact, agree with much of it. I do have two quibbles though.
First, all laws passed by the Legislature are PRESUMED to be Constitutional, and a party bringing a Constitutional challenge bears the heavy burden of overcoming that presumption. See Common Cause v. Commonwealth, 668 A.2d 190,195 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 1995) (“all legislative enactments [are] entitled to a strong presumption of constitutionality.”). That’s not quite the same thing as saying all laws ARE Constitutional until proven otherwise. That distinction, however, does not undermine your otherwise valid point about the necessity of complying with all laws unless and until a court says otherwise.
Second, I disagree with the “absolutism” label you apply to my comments. In my email to Rep. Kampf, I prefaced my argument with “as I understand this [Constitutional] provision,” noted that “it would appear” that the law violates the Constitution and finally asked Rep. Kampf to “look into this issue.” In subsequent comments I said “IF the proposed law violates the Pennsylvania Constitution . . .” and noted that, if a voter was denied the right to vote as a result of the law, “that sure sounds” like a Constitutional violation. I do not think I implied, and certainly did not intend to imply, that the courts already have ruled on this issue.
Wow, FTW, your (entirely predictable) response to two attorneys who “dare” to weigh in with legal opinions – (imagine that!) – is churlish.
There is an awful lot of twisting and disregarding the facts by those who have no qualms about a law that will prevent currently registered voters from voting. Enough to change the outcome of an election. (And isn’t that the point?)
Your position is clear: WHO CARES? If voters without valid ID’s don’t have the proper documents in hand and/or can’t afford to pay for them and take time off from work or get transportation to go apply for an ID during DMV hours, they just don’t deserve to vote. Is an ID law a barrier to exercising one’s constitutionally protected right to vote? Of course not, because you say it isn’t. And your “common sense” should prevail.
PA’s Republican legislators may not have identifying tattoos in mind but they fully understand the consequences of erecting this barrier to voting. And it is no coincidence at all that Harrisburg is in a giant hurry to make sure this bill is signed and in effect before the November election.
Disenfranchising voters who are more likely to vote Democratic – when the goal is a Republican run country and state – is the ONLY reason a slew of voter ID/suppression bills have been put forward across the country since 2010 – by Republican- run state legislatures.
There is no clearer example of how polarized politics is infecting this country. It’s an “us against them” mentality. And to you and MD and many others, people without a valid ID are “not one of us”, so why should you care whether they can participate in our “democratic” election process.
You have no idea where I stand on this bill nor do I believe people without a valid ID are “not one of us.”
Please show me anywhere in what I have written that proves either of these accusations.
I reiterated my points above since they obviously were unclear. However, nowhere did i say or imply either of the things you accuse me of. It is your language – not mine – that is the example of polarized politics, etc. you decry.
I am not a political party office holder or committee person, are you?
I am not even registered to one party or another, are you?
The answers to those questions alone may prove who is more “polarized politics” than anything else.
KATE, WHERE ARE YOU?
YOUR SILENCE SINCE MY CHALLENGE TO YOU TO EITHER PROVE YOUR ACCUSATIONS OR EVEN ANSWER SIMPLE QUESTIONS IS DEAFENING!!!
Thanks for proving my point.
Burden? Sometimes burdens are necessary evils. And I think you may be overstating the “burden”.
disenfranchising voters you mostly vote democratic? Interesting. How do you know? on the same level then, I would say that illegal voting enfranchises democrats, as the Chicago style politics mostly involves voters who fraudulantly vote democratic. new?
APPLYING FOR A PENNSYLVANIA ID CARD
Locate the Driver License Center nearest you, as you will have to apply for the ID card in person. You cannot apply online.
Complete the Driver License/Identification Card form in blue or black ink.
Bring proper identification. Depending on whether you are a U.S. or non-U.S. citizen, you will be asked to bring a set of acceptable documents to prove identity and residency. You will need two proofs of residency if you are 18 years or older.
Out-of-state ID cards or driver’s licenses must be surrendered when applying for the Pennsylvania ID card. The same name and date of birth must appear on all documents, or an association between the information shown. If this is not possible, additional proof such as marriage certificate must be provided.
Provide proof of your social security number (SSN). If you have never been issued a SSN, you may be required to obtain one, or if you are not eligible for an SSN, bring a letter of denial/indecision from the Social Security Office.
Pay the ID card application fee, currently $10.00, by cash or check. Check the appropriate PENNDOT site for fee changes, if any.
On completing these requirements, your photograph will be taken and the card issued to you.
I know this might make it hard for some who shouldn’t be here to get ID’s. Sorry.
Oh and the Unconstitutional argument is a complete joke. Funny, how some want to look there now and ignore it when it is convenient.
“Oh and the Unconstitutional argument is a complete joke.”
I would be very interested in analyzing any legal authority you have for the proposition that the Constitutional concern expressed here “is a complete joke.” I am always willing to reconsider my positions in the face of contrary authority.
As things stand, what I am aware of is a clear provision in the Pennsylvania Constitution that says every person 18 years of age or older is entitled to vote provided that person: (1) has been a citizen for at least one month; (2) has resided in the Commonwealth for at least 90 days before an election; (3) has resided in the election district for at least 60 days before the election; and (4) has registered to vote. If a person who meets those criteria is denied the right to vote because he does not have identification, that sure sounds like a violation of his Constitutional rights.
Here is the language directly from Article VII, Section 1 of the Constitution:
“Every citizen 21 [now 18] years of age, possessing the following qualifications, shall be entitled to vote at all elections subject, however, to such laws requiring and regulating the registration of electors as the General Assembly may enact. 1. He or she shall have been a citizen of the United States at least one month. 2. He or she shall have resided in the State ninety (90) days immediately preceding the election. 3. He or she shall have resided in the election district where he or she shall offer to vote at least sixty (60) days immediately preceding the election, except that if qualified to vote in an election district prior to removal of residence, he or she may, if a resident of Pennsylvania, vote in the election district from which he or she removed his or her residence within sixty (60) days preceding the election.”
Libs are funny. They have no problem restricting the constitutionally protected right of the people to keep and bear arms but God forbid we make a simple effort to make sure that the people who vote are who they say they are. I think it is not unreasonable or burdensome to ask someone who wants to vote or buy a gun to show their ID. I realize that I could be jumping to conclusions and that these same people who oppose the ID requirement may support unfettered access to firearms. In which case I respectfully disagree with their opinion on both matters.
Your analogy is inapt. The Pennsylvania Constitution says nothing about the qualifications for purchasing a firearm. It says: “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.” Article I, Section 21. In the absence of Constitutionally-mandated qualifications for purchasing a firearm, the Legislature is entitled to enact reasonable laws establishing those qualifications, such as laws requiring a firearm purchaser to possess and provide identification.
Article VII, Section 1, by contrast, sets forth explicitly the qualifications for voting — i.e., if you are a citizen and a resident of the Commonwealth/election district for a sufficient period of time in advance of an election and have registered to vote, you have a Constitutional right to vote. The Legislature cannot add on a qualification that the voter possess identification — at least not without amending the Constitution.
It bothers me that we seem to have politicians who only have energy around preventing people from voting rather than getting more people to vote. I think our voting records are abysmal but where are the solutions aimed at increasing voting percentage? Nope – we get nonsensical laws aimed at a problem that has no grounding in evidence whatsoever.
This whole ID thing is nothing more than a state by state loyalty oath effort for the national republican party. I’m upset that our PA R’s are falling for it. If the quote above from Carol Aichele is correct, I find that disappointing, as she is far more socially engaged. Politics dictates strange behaviors. It’s not about what you know — it’s about what you can prove?
one thing bothers me… I am registered to vote. But someone else goes in to polling place, signs my name close in detail and votes in my place. Or someone is dead. non registered voter uses deceased name, That happens. So while this tactic will probably help the Democrats, this ID thing will legitimize who is voting. That helps us all.
probably help the Ds? Not sure I understand that.
The effort is clearly meant to do just the opposite. the larger portion of voters are Ds. If you can reduce the numbe who vote, you reduce the Ds. The higher number who are likely to avoid a photo id tend to be Ds or I’s….again, likely D supporters. This s an R loyalty oath…to make voting harder to do, and to make those on the fringe less likely to vote.
Two Aichele quotes in this post — both “before” and “after” the decision to pursue this course. Pretty clearly a REpublican (Big R) strategy.
I thought Corbett and fellow Republicans want to lessen the size of government and its costs thereof. Why then, especially while we’re still in recession mode, would they want to spend millions of our tax dollars on implementing a voter ID law when fraud isn’t a significant problem? Don’t take my word for this. According to PA Sec. of State Carol Aichele speaking in Sept. ’11 in State College and quoted in statecollege.com, “There is no documented fraud (issue) — not a huge one.”
The one thing I hate about this argument is that too many people seem to be ok with a little fraud or an insignificant amount of fraud. Personally, I like my vote to not be diluted by any fraud or, knowing there will always be cheaters, as little as possible. This legislation seems like it could help achieve that. Of course, I still have other concerns.
You “hate” my comment? I would never write that about anything that anyone on Community Matter writes.
Does the state have extra millions of dollars this year? I am not okay with spending millions of dollars that the Commonwealth doesn’t have on what the Sec. of State acknowledges is “no documented fraud (issue).” Her words not mine.
Not yours. Just the general tenor of so many seeming so accepting of any level of fraud. Sorry for confusion.
Interesting article on this issue today (see here: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/03/pennsylvania_house_to_vote_on.html).
Once you take out all the partisan quotes, there were some interesting facts:
1. Looks like the Senate added a lot of IDs so even fewer people need to get them.
“According to Corbett administration estimates, more than 99 percent of the state’s voting-eligible residents already have a qualifying photo ID, which could be anything issued by the federal or state governments, a student ID for college students, or resident cards issued to patients in care facilities.That leaves about 90,000 people that will have to get one. The bill makes provision for them to do that, free of charge…”
2. Apparently all the talking points over disenfranchisement and lower turnout are just that – talking…
“Supporters say a photo ID is a small price to pay to guarantee fairness, and that dire predictions of disenfranchisement are premature.
One 2007 study conducted by faculty at the University of Delaware and the University of Nebraska concluded voter ID laws “do not meaningfully affect voter turnout.”
“The number one factor is interest in an election,” said Jason Mycoff, a co-author of that study. “If people are interested enough to vote, they’re probably going to be interested enough to do the things that it takes to get registered to vote.”
In Georgia, where photo IDs became a requirement in 2007, data indicates minority voter turnout increased in both the 2008 and 2010 elections.”
For the benefit of the discussion, here is the language from the bill as amended by the Senate that defines acceptable forms of identification (I excluded the section regarding special provisions for those of have religious objections be being photographed):
“The words ‘proof of identification’ shall mean . . . a document that:
(i) shows the name of the individual to whom the document was issued and the name substantially conforms to the name of the individual as it appears in the district register;
(ii) shows a photograph of the individual to whom the document was issued;
(iii) includes an expiration date and is not expired, except:
(A) for a document issued by the Department of Transportation which is not more than twelve (12) months past the expiration date; or
(B) in the case of a document from an agency of the Armed forces of the United States or their reserve components, including the Pennsylvania National Guard, establishing that the elector is a current member of or a veteran of the United States Armed Forces or National Guard which does not designate a specific date on which the document expires, but includes a designation that the expiration date is indefinite; and
(iv) was issued by one of the following:
(A) The United States Government.
(B) The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
(C) A municipality of this Commonwealth to an employee of that municipality.
(D) An accredited Pennsylvania public or private institution of higher learning.
(E) A Pennsylvania care facility.”
With respect to the Corbett administration’s estimate that 99% of voting-eligible residents already have qualifying identification, I simply note the following statement by Senator Leach (without commenting, on way or the other, on the accuracy of his analysis or endorsing the somewhat overwrought rhetoric), which disputes that estimate:
“The Corbett administration then claims that a Department of State (Secrerary Aichele’s department) ‘analysis’ shows that ’99 percent of eligible voters currently have acceptable photo IDs.’ I took the liberty of calling the department and asking how that figure was calculated. It turns out that they took the total number of photo IDs PennDot has issued and divided by the number of eligible voters in Pennsylvania.
The problem with this is that there are many thousands of currently valid IDs issued to people who have died, or have moved, or are legal, non-citizen immigrants or are not eligible to vote for other reasons. Thus, it is misleading and irresponsible to connect the numbers of IDs and voters in this context. After I publicized this critique of their methodology, the Department of State changed their claim of how many people currently have valid IDs from ’99 percent’ to ‘the vast majority.’ They do not define ‘vast majority’, but it clearly means something significantly less than 99 percent.
It is more likely that the number of Pennsylvania voters without photo IDs is close to the national figures, which are startling. According to the Washington Post, 11 percent of all Americans lack photo ID, including 20 percent of voters under age 29, 15 percent of those earning under $35,000 per year, and a full quarter of all African Americans.”
Question: there is an obvious difference between the number of americans withou photo id and the number of eligible voters without it. Does anyone actually have the latter figure?
What i keep reading are the talking points of two polarized sides when it comes to numbers.
Those who oppose use all americans, though they may not be eligible voters. Dont know what those ho support use, but it is different.
The Corbett administration backed off their 99% eligibility number months ago – when someone asked for actual support for that number. Plus Carol Aichele, Secretary of the Commonwealth, told House members there is no real evidence of voter impersonation – the only form of fraud the ID bill addresses….
A taxpayer should wonder why this fiscally conservative administration is so intent on enforcing an ID law BEFORE the November election.
The Senate did amend HB 934 – adding nursing home ID’s, in-state college ID’s, and municipal employee ID’s. (Just a note: they must have an address on them, which college ID’s generally don’t have.)
That leaves approximately 200,000 seniors who don’t reside in senior care facilities and have no valid photo ID’s, and several hundred thousand low income voters who may be burdened with the cost of acquiring birth certificates and of transportation to get to DMV’s. That a non-driver ID will be provided for free does not remove the burden.
The waiting times to order birth certificates and social security cards is often months, not the 6 days allowed in the bill for provisional voters to provide a state issued ID or U.S. passport to have their vote counted.
Areas where election fraud is more likely to exist, such as the point of contact between the ballot and officials counting the vote, absentee voting and registration fraud are not addressed by HB 934.
As I write this, the House is still debating this bill. The reality is that virtually every Republican will vote for it, and they are in the majority.
As the voters of Pennsylvania stand in the longest lines ever and witness poll workers struggling to ID voters and witness provisional voters’ signatures, they will decide whether the Republicans who supported this bill deserve their vote.
I’m betting there will be an unintended consequences for those who participated in this and other legislative over-reaches during the last year.
Welcome back, kate
Still awaiting the proof for thevaccusations you made against me. Or werevthey just partisan rhetoric like the kind you claim to hate so much?
How can PA consider spending $4.3 million that the state doesn’t have on voter ID implementation?????
that may be the best 4.3 million spent that we don’t have!
Not being an attorney, but curious about the constitutionality argument put forth, I asked a friend who is an attorney to do some research.
His answers seem to contradict the attorneys’ opinions here, but that always seems to be the case when arguing constitutional law as I can tell. Perhaps Steve Shapiro (as an attorney) can weigh in.
Maybe the answer is that both sides have good arguments and it will just be up to the courts?
Anyway, here is what my friend found and forwarded. Have fun reading…
1 – This is not a question of changing the qualifications of electors, it is simply a matter of ensuring against voter fraud. In 2008, in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, the United States Supreme Court noted as follows:
There is no question about the legitimacy or importance of the State’s interest in counting only the votes of eligible voters. Moreover, the interest in orderly administration and accurate recordkeeping provides a sufficient justification for carefully identifying all voters participating in the election process. Crawford v. Marion County Election Bd. 553 U.S. 181, 196, 128 S.Ct. 1610, 1619 (U.S. 2008) (upholding a voter ID statute in the face of an Equal Protection challenge).
This legislation does not disenfranchise voters, rather, it protects the franchise against the dilution which results when voter fraud occurs. Discussion of vote dilution often comes up in the context of legislative and Congressional reapportionment, so a quote from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s 1992 legislative reapportionment decision encapsulates the argument:
[E]lections are free and equal within the meaning of the Constitution when they are public and open to all qualified electors alike; when every voter has the same right as any other voter; when each voter under the law has the right to cast his ballot and have it honestly counted. In re 1991 Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission, 530 Pa. 335, 356, 609 A.2d 132, 142 (Pa. 1992) (citations omitted) (emphasis added).
2 – Mixon v. Pennsylvania, the felons lawsuit, provides instructive language. This is at 759 A2d 442. Other than allowing free and equal elections, a constitutional requirement, it is up to the General Assembly to determine how elections are conducted and even who is a qualified elector. There is no part of our constitution which says when such qualification of electors must occur. If the General Assembly determines that showing a photo ID is needed to verify that the elector is indeed who he says he is – right now one need only forge a signature which is right there in front of them as the voters present themselves to vote – then that is certainly a constitutional regulation.
Currently, an elector presenting himself for the first time can be required to produce one of many types of identifications. This has never been declared unconstitutional.
Happy to oblige:
For starters, and to be clear, the sole contention I am advancing here is that the Voter ID law violates Article VII, Section 1 of the PENNSYLVANIA CONSTITUTION. With that in mind:
1) Crawford involved a challenge to Indiana’s Voter ID law under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Whether or not Indiana’s law violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has no relevance to the question of whether PA’s Voter ID law violates Article VII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. In other words, even if you assume that the PA law does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, that does NOT mean it passes muster under Article VII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
So, yes, the Legislature unquestionably has an interest in protecting against voter fraud and vote dilution, but that interest does not permit it to enact laws that violate the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Also, as an aside (because it really has no relevance to my argument), the Crawford court rejected the challenge to Indiana’s law, not because it concluded the law was valid, but rather because those challenging the law failed to create a sufficient evidentiary record showing that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment: “In sum, on the basis of the record that has been made in this litigation, we cannot conclude that the statute imposes ‘excessively burdensome requirements’ on any class of voters.” Crawford v. Marion County Election Bd., 128 S. Ct. 1610, 1623 (2008).
As for the reapportionment case, the court there was addressing the “free and equal” clause, which is a different provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution (Article I, Section 5). If elections are not “free and equal” because fraud is causing voter dilution, then voters can bring a lawsuit arguing that their Constitutional rights are being violated by fraud and, if they can prove those allegations, they can obtain whatever relief the Court deems appropriate. But that relief cannot violate the provision of the Constitution we are discussing here — Art. VII, Section 1.
2) In the relevant portion of Mixon, two groups of incarcerated felons challenged two different laws. First, a group of incarcerated felons who were not registered to vote challenged a law prohibiting incarcerated felons from REGISTERING. That law did not violate Article VII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, because Article VII, Section 1 specifically permits the General Assembly to make laws relating to voter REGISTRATION: “subject, however, to such laws requiring and regulating the registration of electors as the General Assembly may enact.” As I’ve written previously, the Voter ID law, which requires voters to show ID at the time they vote, does not regulate registration. Indeed, the registration process, by statute, must be completed at least 30 days before an election.
Second, a different group of incarcerated felons in Mixon who already were registered to vote challenged a law prohibiting incarcerated felons from obtaining an absentee ballot. That law did not violate the Constitution because a different section of the Constitution — Article VII, Section 14 — permits the Legislature to set conditions on who may vote by absentee ballot.
As for the first time voter ID requirements, those were imposed by federal law — the Help America Vote Act (“HAVA”). Under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, federal law trumps state law. The fact that HAVA trumps the Pennsylvania Constitution as to first time voters, however, does not give the Legislature authority to ignore the Pennsylvania Constitution for all other voters not covered by the HAVA requirements.
As to the comment from From the West “…right now one need only forge a signature which is right there in front of them…”, in my role as Minority Inspector I can tell you that we have been trained to cover the voter’s signature printed in the poll book with our hand while the voter is signing. Furthermore, it’s upside down from the point of view of the voter. While such forgery isn’t impossible, it seems like it would be quite a trick to do without its being somewhat obvious.
This check is by no means foolproof, but is often left out of discussions about how easy it would be for someone to impersonate a voter.
Sorry, that portion was not my comments, but my friends. I probably should have cut out, but that was a cut-and-paste.
On my own, I will say that I have voted in several locations in Chester County over the years (as I have moved) and not once has my signature (or those near my name) ever been blocked from my view as I sign in. Perhaps people aren’t doing as they are trained, but it isn’t uncommon in my experience.
Granted, election workers may not always adhere to the procedures, but such a criticism would apply equally to the new voter ID procedures.
For the forgery scenario to succeed in allowing impersonators to vote, it would require:
1. One or more forgers, each skilled in instantly forging a signature presented upside down to them in the poll book (assuming the poll worker does not cover the signature) without hesitation or other things that might arouse suspicion to the inspector.
2. Such impersonators would have to be able to fool a gauntlet of election staff, poll watchers (provided by the parties and candidates), other political folks at the polls (committeepeople, greeters, etc.) so that none of these would challenge the impersonator PRIOR to his having an opportunity to forge the signature. Anyone can challenge a voter’s residency or other qualification to vote in that precinct. In my experience during about 6 years as inspector, most voters are known to one or more of the people mentioned above.
3. Election workers are required to see ID (not necessarily photo) from any new voter in the precinct. They can ask for ID from anyone whose identity they are unsure of.
Now, any of these safeguards either in the present system or the photo ID system can be subverted by corrupt collusion between workers, watchers, etc., but if one assumes such a high level of corruption, all bets are off on any system.
I leave to others better informed whether this is federal or state constitutional issue. However, if the forgery scenario or other related impersonation scenarios are the reason for the photo ID law, I feel it’s a waste of lots of time and money to solve a vanishingly small problem.
And since political identification is important to some as a way of validating or invalidating my comments, I have used my full name and anyone interested can determine that I am an elected official (Minority Inspector, though this is certainly not a policy-making position) and secretary of the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee, though I am speaking not for TTDems, but from my experience as an election official.
from the west: very salient points as articulated by the US Supreme Court. And logical. Protect the franchise. From a political perspective I wonder if Democrats would howl as much about this if the perception that requiring voter ID’s would “disenfranchise’ republicans. It really shouldn’t matter. Show bona fide proof that you are alive and who you say you are. Then vote!
FTW’s friend writes “the interest in orderly administration and accurate recordkeeping provides a sufficient justification for carefully identifying all voters participating in the election process.”
– No one disagrees on this point. PA’s process currently requires any first-time voter at a poll to show ID that matches the exact name and address in the poll book.
– And this system has worked well, leading to FOUR convictions out of 20 MILLION votes cast in PA since 2004. Others have discussed what a high risk, low reward activity voter impersonation is. For one vote, how many people would risk 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine? Mr. Poppel noted the difficulty of successfully forging a signature. Common sense should prevail here.
– Also, the requirement pushed by Republican state legislatures to strictly limit acceptable ID to a state-issued ID or U.S. passport – within months of a presidential election with an incumbent Democrat – leaves serious doubt as to the law’s motive. A more prolonged period of voter education allowing voters to get hold of required documents with support from the state and county organizations would reduce the charge of intentional disenfranchisement.
-And as any college kid can attest, phony drivers’ licenses can be had for $50. Photoshop, a high resolution printer and a laminating kit can produce a perfect ID. This bill offers false assurance that only properly registered and identified voters are voting.
– Re the additional ID’s included in the Senate amendment, they include ID’s issued for residents of PA care facilities, ID’s issued for municipal employees, and by in-state colleges for its students. What Republican legislative leaders fail to mention is that HB 934 requires that ID’s include the voter’s address and an expiration date. Because of this requirement, many of these added ID’s will not be accepted at the polls.
– During the final hour of debate on HB 934 today, Republican Representative Kate Harper from Montgomery County announced that she’d been informed the state would provide resources to ensure that seniors (Republicans) got ID’s by election day. ($$$$$?)
– That leaves students (no address on ID’s) and low-income people (a disproportionate number living in Philadelphia) to navigate the system and PAY for the required documents by themselves.
I thought Harper was channeling Carole Aichele of Lincoln University fame.
FTW writes “This legislation does not disenfranchise voters; rather, it protects the franchise against the dilution”.
-Since the evidence of voter fraud is so small, talk of vote dilution is not based in fact and amounts to an empty talking point.( But it clearly resonates with those who mistrust government and imagine all manner of criminal behavior by those “not qualified to vote”.)
FTW also writes “Elections are free and equal within the meaning of the Constitution when they are public and open to all qualified electors alike; when every voter has the same right as any other voter.”
– So…. if hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians can’t or won’t get hold of all documents needed to get an official ID by November 6 by , that’s their choice. No one is stopping them from voting…..right?
FTW, you object to my characterization of your position on HB 934 and claim you have not taken a position. OK. Clearly, you echo Republican talking points in defending provisions of the bill. But maybe you enjoy playing devil’s advocate….If I unfairly viewed you as a disenfranchisement denier who believes PA’s voter ID bill is necessary to “protect the integrity” of the 2012 vote, then I apologize.
Since you asked, I am a Democratic committeeperson who knows the voters in my precinct and cares deeply about getting out the vote. I view today’s passage of voter ID bill
as a cynical partisan act by a group of Republican legislators hoping to rig November’s election results in their favor. They should all be sent packing.
1. If you read my previous post carefully you would know that the things you attribute to me were my attorney friend’s writings. Perhaps there was confusion, so I will let it pass.
2. Again, if you look at my posts I have expressed concerns over this issue and said I can see merits to BOTH arguments. I am not “echoing” anyone’s talking points. Instead, I am trying to have a reasoned discussion on the facts which you turned into an attack against me.
3. Again, if you look at my posts, I have never said anything that could be construed as thinking some people are better, more worthy or whatever your accusation was. It was that comment more than any other for which you should apologize. And it is that comment more than any other that came across as strident and partisan.
Thank you for admitting that you are, in fact, a partisan and elected party official. It at least explains your strident tone in attacking me.
Pot. Kettle. You’ve been quick to call others partisan, strident, churlish, etc. I’m fairly certain CM readers aren’t interested in any more of this personal dialogue.
I am at times passionate about issues and candidates. I openly admit to my Democratic perspective.
Please know that I have no interest in “attacking” you personally.
Re the “confusion” between you and your friend, I believe I noted the source of those quotes: “FTW’s friend writes…” at the start of my last post. There was no confusion on my part.
Ladies — get a room (or a boxing ring?)
This is only a partisan fight. Clearly the courts will decide.. but in light of the more recent Supreme Court decisions…we no longer believe courts are non-partisan….so we can whine away, or simply work for candidates and attempt to explain why our candidate is more qualified or better suited.
But wait — that’s not what we will do. We will tell each other why our candidate’s opponent is flawed and useless and a puppet and paid for and under influence.
Sigh. If we cannot even have a non-abusive debate on this site, what really can or should we expect of our leaders???
The ACLU filed a challenge to the Voter ID law in Commonwealth Court today. The court filings are available through the links at the bottom of this page:
The ACLU appears to be raising in Count III the issue on which I have been focused — whether the law violates Article VII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.