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PA Voter ID Bill

There is a bill being considered in the Pennsylvania House that would require identification to vote. Folks on the left are making a big deal out of having to show identification to exercise a fundamental right. I doubt they’ll find any sympathy on this argument here, since I’m sure we can all think of another fundamental right which can’t be exercised without showing identification. The left made this bed, and they can sleep in it.

If the government can restrict one fundamental right (right to keep and bear arms) by requiring government issued photo ID, with an aim to prevent crime, it can sure require photo ID for another fundamental right with an aim to prevent crime (voter fraud).

UPDATE: It just passed 104-88.

31 Responses to “PA Voter ID Bill”

  1. It’s just a ‘common sense’ regulation.

  2. David says:

    INB4 Holder “My People” and his DOJ.

  3. Alpheus says:

    I would go so far as to say that Voter ID protects the right to vote. I still remember hearing about someone at my wife’s work, when we were living in New York State (Albany area), who showed up to vote, but his name had already been signed for.

    Because ballots are secret, there’s no way for a vote like that to be fixed!

  4. Adam Z says:

    Have no fear! Even though it passed 104-88 and Gov. Corbett will likely sign it…Obama’s Holder is on his way to save the day!!! Its Super AG Holder…Hooray!!! He will now most probably sue PA with his Voter Rights Section of the Justice Department and try to have an injunction placed on the PA Law….as they are doing in SC and TX.

  5. Andy B. says:

    When the left — or the right — makes a bed they don’t want to sleep in, the fact is we ALL have to sleep in it. Our alignments should not affect fundamental principles. We are not obligated to support another step toward totalitarianism just because Republicans are all for it.

    If we don’t like needing to have our papers in order to access one fundamental human right, we come off as — and ARE — pretty hypocritical, not to mention plain stupid, to support a law requiring us to have our papers in order to access another. It matters not the least which end of the totalitarian spectrum “started it.” That is hardly “common sense.”

    • Sebastian says:

      I’d be happy to say no ID required for either, both being fundamental rights, based on our current case laws. What I was arguing is that the left can’t have it both ways. Either we all agree to respect fundamental rights in the same way, or it’s just going to be a matter of who’s ox gets gored, depending on which party is in power.

    • Alpheus says:

      As I stated before, using photo ID is an attempt to preserve the right to vote, not to take it away. As someone who opposes government ID in general, the only way I can think of (so far) to preserve the right to vote, would be to elliminate secret ballot.

      The purpose of secret ballot is to prevent people from being pressured one way or the other from voting a certain way…but the cost is, if someone votes in my name, the entire set of votes is invalidated–there’s no way to correct that vote, so that I could have my say, while the fraudulent vote is removed.

      If we’re going to have secret ballots, and if we’re going to have IDs, then I don’t mind using the IDs to secure the identity of the voter.

  6. Andy B. says:

    I understand what you meant. I just think we have to be careful that ideological partisanship doesn’t lure us into shooting ourselves in the feet in the name of tit-for-tat.

    I personally find it ironic how many people who identify themselves as “patriots” are coming down on the side of always having our papers in order; especially when the argument is used, “What the hell, we need to have them in order for everything else.” It’s kind of like taxes; some things may be a fact of modern life, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek to roll them back, or at least stand firm for where they are, rather than expanding them.

  7. Xrlq says:

    I think a better case can be made for requiring IDs for voting. For most rights you can err on the side of allowing vs. disallowing. Not so voting, where an error in either direction is equally disenfranchising. Every illegal vote cancels out a legal one.

  8. Austin Willi says:

    Are you aware that the Republicans refused to suspend the rules to allow an amendment to make your gun permit a valid ID. When you read the bill it would seem that a gun permit is a valid id but Republicans voted down the motion to suspend. They said it was unnecessary because you need a photo id to get the gun permit and therefore already have a photo ID. But what if I have a gun permit and no longer drive. I still would have a gun permit but not a Driver ID. The old law for new voters specifically lists a gun permit as a valid ID. So why won’t Republicans allow the same wording in the new law?

    • Bitter says:

      It was voted down because it was offered as a poison pill amendment. If the amendment passed, the entire legislation was in jeopardy because it would have had to go back to conference committee with no telling how much other crap being added to it.

      I suspect this is something that can be easily lobbied to change. If you look at the votes for that amendment, then you should be suspicious when legislators who always vote against gun owners suddenly get on board. The purpose of the amendment wasn’t to actually give more access to gun owners, it was to derail the entire bill.

      • Austin says:

        Bitter may be right about the poison pen amendment but it doesn’t change the fact that it was a mistake to not include gun permits as a specific form of voter ID. I intend to use my gun permit when I vote, to see if it is accepted. The really sad issue here is the number of people who never even exercise their right to vote but complain about the results. Voter ID will not help that problem but will probably make it worse.

        • Bitter says:

          It would have been ideal to include it from the beginning, but unless you have knowledge about where it might have been stripped away or willfully left out, then I don’t think it’s fair to blame one whole political party for the failure. As I said, that’s a great issue to bring up with your representative for fixing the law. Even better would be constituents calling on all the anti-gunners who supported it as a poison pill to support it again. :)

    • Matthew Carberry says:

      Not to nitpick but “What if I don’t drive?” isn’t a great argument position. You can get a PA state photo ID from the DMV there, cheaper than a DL, that I’m sure (not having read the legislation but going off every state of which I am familiar) will work.

      • Bitter says:

        Yes, it will work. So will several other forms of ID. It is spelled out in the law.

        UPDATE: Actually, they are going to make voting-only photo IDs available for free according to one press account of the law.

      • Sebastian says:

        It’s interesting how many people are concerned about the poor and minorities losing their rights, by having to show ID to vote, and aren’t concerned about the same thing when it comes to their right to keep and bear arms. Gun control is still racist.

        • Matthew Carberry says:

          And that needs to be a segue by every articulate pro-gun person who gets the chance to speak or write about this bill and the objections to it.

          Put the “no ID to vote : yes ID (and fees, and licenses, etc) for gun” crowd in an untenable position.

          Either it’s a “reasonable regulation” in both cases, or it is an unconscionable attempt to disenfranchise poor and minority citizens in both, the two positions can’t be simultaneously true. The reasonable folks who are undecided, who might not have made the connection, will thus be forced to deal with it.

          If the anti’s come back with “vote fraud is uncommon”, “only a few -known- instances by folks ineligible to vote, out of millions of voters”, the response writes itself: “there are only hundreds of -known- misuses (and any that cause harm are reported, unlike undiscovered vote fraud) by people -not prohibited to possess firearms in the first place- among even more millions of law-abiding gun owners every year.”

          It can be pointed out that there are more lawfully possessed firearms among eligible voters than there are eligible voters in the US.

          Again, this kind of thing isn’t going to change the mind of a hoplophobe, but from personal experience Joe or Jane Average, who usually doesn’t think about this stuff in a consistent, connected fashion, is going to weigh both arguments and ours usually isn’t the one found wanting.

  9. Dirk Diggler says:

    SC and TX are under federal jursidiction of the voting rights act for past proven discriminatory acts. As such, they have to get approval before they can change their voter laws. PA is not under such jurisdiction so the threshold is very low. Just like in Indiana, which passed a law similar to the one in dispute in TX. Justice Dept. tried to fight it, but were rebuffed. I don’t have a problem with the jurisdiction of Justice over these states. At some point, it should end and the focus should be on ending such jurisdiction, but they did have a pattern and practice that got them into this hole to begin with

  10. Hank Archer says:

    Voting is not a “fundamental” right. The Constitution gives Congress and the States the authority to regulate voting. Election of officials can be delegated to other bodies (like it was before direct election of Senators) and eligibility requirements can be set.

    Legislatures, and Executive and Judicial bodies have no (legal) authority to regulate speech, worship, due process, self-defense and other “fundamental” rights.

    • Sebastian says:

      I’ll pretty much echo what Andy said. If you were a pure originalist, this is true. We wouldn’t have needed constitutional amendments for women, blacks, and poll taxes if it had been originally viewed as a right. The big problem I have with originalism, is it assumes that at some point, we had people who had wiser conceptions of rights than we do today.

      I do think judges need to be bound to the text, but that text offers a lot of room for interpretation, and this was intentional in the constitutional framework. It’s how you can people as diverse as Hamilton and Jefferson to acquiesce to the same document. But I don’t think you can, for instance, just completely ignore the structural framework the document manages to protect.

      Originalism is kind of a poor way to deal with the fact that no one believe in the Constitution anymore.

      • Sebastian says:

        My fingers dropped a lot of words in there… but you get the idea :)

      • mobo says:

        Yeah but nothing in this law amounts to a poll tax (IDs are free), or targets anybody specifically by race or sex. “Disparate Impact” is the only thing that can be pointed to. Yet if you take an honest look at the original intent if the 15th amendment, for example, it is pretty clear that they did not intend to go as far as to cover situations which had a “disparate impact”, but rather the explicit kind of discrimination. I am NOT in favor of this voter ID act, but I think it’s constitutionally permissible.

  11. Andy B. says:

    Voting is not a “fundamental” right.

    That is arguable. Even the constitution itself acknowledges that it is not itemizing every right that may exist. It would seem that voting is a formalized system of collectively acknowledging who we will acquiesce to allowing to speak for us. Voting could be said to be a subset of free speech, if you believe that is a fundamental right. It is a form of speech for which it is codified that it must be listened to. So, denying participation in it is a very serious matter.

    Of course “rights” are very metaphysical things, that exist because we say they do. But they exist in exact proportion to our resources for obtaining and defending them. Those without resources to defend rights, historically have had no rights at all.

    • Matthew Carberry says:

      The absolute right to self-defense without respect to others could only ever have been absolutely exercised in the Hobbesean/Lockean state of nature anyway, which none of us (should) want to return to.

      As the Heller decision (and the historian’s brief it cribbed from) noted, the right to self-defense, even absolute, does not automatically transmogrify within a civil society, in practice, into the absolute right to keep and bear whatever weapon we find the most desireable or convenient, in whatever fashion we choose, in whatever location we choose.

      Maybe it should, but in the real world other equally important rights (to the keeping and bearing of particular arms in particular manners and places for the purpose of self-defense, not the right to self-defense to the limits of one’s capacity, which is unalienable and cannot be surrendered), such as the right to private property to pick an obvious one, force a balancing test.

      Which is why “What part of ‘shall not be infringed’ don’t you understand?” makes a good bumper sticker, but an untenable philosophy on which to build actual public policy.

      • Xrlq says:

        That, plus the fact that the people who utter the phrase generally do not understand themselves what “infringe” means. Hint: it doesn’t mean “slightly burden or inconvenience in any way, shape or form.” It means a good deal more than that. Total bans are obvious infringements; lesser controls not so obvious after all.

    • mobo says:

      It would not have even been open to debate at the time of the founding… That the states were to decide amongst themselves the “requisite qualifications” for voting/electors within their borders. Almost nobody would have even thought to question this at that time. Nobody that I’m aware of advanced the notion that voting was among those unenumerated rights in the 9th amendment, at least until the 14th amendment was ratified. Before that, (and actually, even after that…) voting rights were pretty much whatever each state said they were.

      Whatever our view of voting rights are today, they don’t come from the original constitution, or even from the reconstruction and progressive era voting amendments. Those amendments sought to put an end to the much more basic problem of voting laws that specifically targeted blacks and women. And some suspect that blacks were guaranteed the right to not be excluded from voting before women because they were at that time a reliable block of Republican voters while women were not.

  12. Freedom Lover says:

    Elderly and disabled citizens without an ID who do not live in a nursing home will have to apply for a photo ID at a drivers center. To do so they need to present a birth certificate or passport, a social security card and two forms to prove residency. How many elderly and disabled can readily find or still have their birth certificate. They may know their social security number but you have to show the card according to the form. Tell me that won’t discourage them from voting. There were other ways to stop fraud such as thumb prints etc. that would not have discouraged people from voting. This bill does more harm than good.

    • Matthew Carberry says:

      That’s not a great argument either.

      First, I’ll need to see some actual numbers, perhaps based on census data, of the number of individuals who are currently elderly and/or disabled -and- have never, ever, had an acceptable state-issued ID to use to receive local, state, or Federal benefits or meet other employment requirements, etc. Elderly is 80 plus or so, since they weren’t -born- elderly they had plenty of time and mobility in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, when IDs became commonplace nationwide, to exert the ridiculously low level of effort to get one, if they had any interest at all. My sympathy now, for that many decades of slacking then, is pretty low. The number of people with a -reasonable- excuse is going to be statistical noise.

      Second, the government is forbidden to make it effectively impossible for a person to exercise a right should they choose to attempt to do so. There is no “duty” to make the exercise of a right easily possible in every indivdual’s circumstance, certainly not to simply make it convenient and require no effort on the individual’s part.

      Third, any eligible voter of any circumstance who can’t figure out to call a local politico and say “I’ll give you my vote if you send someone to get me to the DMV and/or push for an exception for me and my fellow biddies at the rest home to have a mobile sign-up van sent, etc, etc” is probably non compos mentis and shouldn’t be voting anyway.

  13. Richard says:

    The law is a shame. This is a law to solve a non-existent problem trumped up as a national election strategy to suppress the Democratic vote. Check PA association of Dist. Attorney – very few instances of voter fraud exist. It is no secret that Republican legislatures all over the country are passing this legislation in a coordinated effort to keep a slice of the Democratic electorate from casting their ballots in the coming Presidential election. Shaving off a few of those D votes in Philly and Pittsburgh could make all the difference. The key to GOP Victory in PA is keeping the vote totals down. That’s a fact, Jack. There are a million more registered Ds in PA than Rs. So don’t be a schmuck and believe the GOP nonsense that they have the best interest of the country at heart with voter ID. They have only their own best interest at heart.

    • Sebastian says:

      But requiring photo ID to exercise another fundamental right (buy a gun) isn’t meant to suppress exercise of the right, and making exercise difficult for the poor. I’m not saying I’m a big supporter of the voter ID bill, but you have to be consistent. You can’t say rights that you like are sacrosanct, and untouchable, and ones you don’t can be subject to similar limitations to the Voter ID law.

  14. Xrlq says:

    Certainly not in that direction, you can’t. In reverse, you can. Legal and illegal guns don’t cancel each other out. Legal and illegal votes do.

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