Is it time to repeal Voter ID?
Last month, a Pennsylvania judge ruled that Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law was illegal, noting, “Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the Voter ID Law does not further this goal.”
Gov. Tom Corbett has hinted that he’ll challenge the ruling, which is going to be a tough move during an election year. But in the meantime, there’s a bill in the state House that would fully repeal the infamous law, and it’s got a ton of support.
Introduced by State Rep. Dwight Evans, the legislation would fully repeal the state’s Voter ID law, which was passed in the spring of 2012, in time for that year’s general election. By the time it moved to the state government committee, there were 33 sponsors, all of whom are Democrats, and many of whom are from Philadelphia.
I spoke with Evans Friday afternoon about the bill and how he hopes to make it into law.
“If you understand anything about the movement of voting rights in this country, and the struggle to ensure that people have access to democracy, it’s clear to me that the equalizer is the vote,” he says. “And if you look at what took place in the 2012 presidential election I would argue that as a result of Corbett and the Republicans trying to suspend the people’s right, there was a backlash.”
Evans may be correct. During the 2012 election, while the state’s Voter ID law was in place, State Rep. Mike Turzai bragged at a Republican event that the law would help then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney win Pennsylvania. Video of that speech went viral nationwide and state Republicans were left with their collective tails between their collective legs.
And when Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley released his 103-page decision in January, he basically noted that there was no harbinger for such a law—no corruption, no problems surrounding the idea of showing ID at the booth, or an excess amount of people faking their identity on Election Day. Which was the entire reasoning behind the bill in the first place.
He also argued that there are too many obstacles in Pennsylvania to obtain an ID card.
“If you look at the court decision that came down, the point that the judge attempted to make, there didn’t appear to be any fundamental issues around corruption, and the state admitted that,” continues Evans. “The other reason the judge came to that conclusion is that when you look at the structure of PennDOT facilities, we have very few facilities that have the capacity for Voter ID. From a mechanical standpoint, the judge concluded that this would be a nightmare.”
If the “state government committee” in the House sounds familiar (and it does to you wonks), that’s because it’s the committee State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) chairs, and Metcalfe was an early supporter and co-sponsor of the Voter ID bill.
Metcalfe says what’s brought up and what isn’t in that committee, and it’s safe to assume he won’t allow a vote on an anti-Voter ID bill.
But is such repeal legislation inevitable? The law was muddied here worse than anywhere else because a) we’re a “blue” state, and b) Turzai couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Pushing the bill through during Corbett’s likely-losing campaign season will probably be a lost cause, and no Democratic governor ready to please the national party is going to sit by and keep this law on the books in Pennsylvania come 2015.
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