Voter ID Mess Passes House with ‘What’s the Big Deal?’ Closing Argument
If there’s a lasting legacy of the debate surrounding Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Bill—which passed the House today, 104-88, and Gov. Tom Corbett has promised to sign as soon as possible—it’s this: In partisan legislation put forth for likely nefarious purposes in Pennsylvania, facts don’t matter. That is, unless the state’s constitution is set to be based on access to private luxuries.
Up to speed: After a long battle, the Pennsylvania General Assembly just passed legislation that’d force everyone going to the polls on election day to provide photo ID. To Republicans in Pennsylvania (and more than a dozen other states that’ve recently passed similar legislation) this seemed like a no-brainer. After all, said PA House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, you’ve gotta show ID to get into the gym and go swimming, you should have to show it to vote, too.
Democrats argued against the bill, and many cried suppression. They argued there is no voter fraud problem in Pennsylvania. They argued those most likely to not have a photo ID are often minorities, the elderly and low-income residents. Republicans say a provision in the bill would allow residents to get free ID on the taxpayer dime (where was that money a couple weeks back?) while generally ignoring 18 percent of elderly residents of the U.S. who do not have ID and some of those, who cannot obtain one. We’ve written about that here.
The Republican Party brought up a series of arguments for the bill. The most repeated: ‘You need to show ID everywhere!’ in addition to often unfounded allegations that some people saw others commit voter fraud somewhere, sometime.
State Sen. Larry Farnese wrote on Facebook earlier this morning, “PA GOP justifies spending millions on voter suppression bc of 1 alleged incident in Phila. Ok, we have 16k in need of intellectual disab. services, 40k kicked off adult basic health ins., 89k kids cut from medicaid. Talk about “new math”!”
Philadelphia state Rep. Babette Josephs said, regarding the argument that says you show IDs for cigarettes, beer, the gym and other things—those aren’t constitutional rights. And no one died for the right to lift barbells after work.
Rep. Brownlee, also of Philadelphia, called Voter ID a fix to a “non-existent problem.” It will “turn away people who have dutifully voted for decades…some of these people will be the very same men and women who fought in wars to defend and protect our nation’s democracy…This bill is Jim Crow at its best.”
Project HOME put out a statement urging voters to call Gov. Corbett and beg him not to sign the legislation. If and when he does, he will become a stronger voice in a chorus of first-term Republican governors all over the country who’ve set aside job creation and infrastructure priorities for women’s health, anti-union and repressing of the poor and beaten down from participating in the democratic process. That was on full display a couple weeks back when his new undemocratic ‘no demonstrations in the Capitol during demonstrations’ rule went into effect.
Shortly after the bill passed, the Pennsylvania House Democrats released on Twitter, “If only the #PAHouseGOP cared about the Constitution as much as their hurt feelings.” They also noted that although Corbett had to end medical transportation in his budget, he found the cash that force people to PennDOT for ID.
Reggie Shuford of the ACLU of PA put a statement out after the bill was passed: “Some citizens will lose the vote if this becomes law. But those who want to block the vote should not be fooled into thinking that this is over once the governor signs it. The next stop for this bad idea is in a court of law, and we are prepared to challenge it vigorously.”
“Voter ID will disenfranchise citizens. Period. And a majority of members of the state House are fine with that. This is a shameful day in our commonwealth,” added ACLU of PA legislative director Andy Hoover.
Bizarrely, the bill was passed despite Wisconsin judges overturning a similar Voter ID bill just last week. The Department of Justice blocked a Texas Voter ID bill recently, too. Court challenges have already been planned to stop the bill from becoming law, in spite of the governor’s support. But as of the time of his signature, you will need a photo ID if you plan on voting April 24th.
We will have more local reactions on this blog later on.
UPDATE: Speaker of the House Sam Smith of Jefferson County has found a new boogeyman in Pennsylvania’s massive voter fraud scheme: ACORN. He put out the below statement reminding voters of the Obama ACORN vampiric brain eaters and repeated the ‘What’s the big deal?’ argument (full statement here):
“Many will remember the group called ACORN that recruited and registered voters during our last presidential election. In May 2009, a six-month FBI investigation led to forgery and election fraud charges against seven Pittsburgh-area ACORN employees. All received two years probation except one, which had his fraud charges dropped as part of a plea deal on other charges.
“Some have argued that it is inconvenient and cost-prohibitive for some people to show and secure personal identification. Keep in mind that photo IDs are currently required in many situations including driving a car, boarding an airplane, obtaining a hunting license, buying a gun and cashing a check. Adding your polling place to this list does not seem overly burdensome given the other activities that currently require personal identification. In terms of cost, the state will provide a free non-driver ID to those who do not possess other acceptable forms of identification.
UPDATE 2: Corbett is set to sign the bill TONIGHT, at 6 p.m.