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The Stupid Party Strikes Again

I would like to congratulate House Majority leader Mike Turzai for giving the lawyers who will eventually challenge Pennsylvania’s voter ID law their core argument, which is that, rather than being aimed at preventing voter fraud, it was aimed at delivering Pennsylvania for Mitt Romney. I can understand why Turzai wants to brag about having accomplished something, given how many slam dunk causes, like liquor privatization, the Pennsylvania GOP hasn’t been able to accomplish.

You could probably make a case, even under strict scrutiny, for an ID requirement for voting, with an aim to prevent fraud. It’s not slam-dunk, because voting is among the fundamental rights recognized by the Supreme Court. You can’t make a case for an ID requirement aimed at limiting the voting franchise. Turzai has, essentially, just admitted that Voter ID was not about prevention of fraud. I would encourage gun owners to think about this from the point of view of gun rights. If Mayor Rahm or Bloomberg suddenly admitted the purpose of their gun laws was to limit gun ownership as much as possible, rather than to prevent crime, we’d be quietly saying, “Jackpot! Keep talking buddy.” But neither Rahm nor Bloomberg are that stupid. Only Pennsylvania Republican leaders are that stupid.

16 Responses to “The Stupid Party Strikes Again”

  1. Sage Thrasher says:

    I think politically the Democrats have been stupidly vulnerable on this issue because they opposition to voter ID makes it easy to accuse them of supporting voter fraud. However, the almost total lack of proof of voter fraud that the Republicans have been able to produce despite years of digging has made it clear that voter suppression is their main motivation. A compromise position of making a government ID free and available to every citizen–and then making it a requirement for voting after a reasonable waiting period–seems like a good solution. But of course our elected leaders don’t like solutions–they prefer to milk the controversies indefinitely.

    • Stacy says:

      Also, their documented, nearly open support for and perpetration of voter fraud makes it easy to accuse them of supporting voter fraud.

  2. Here’s the quote:

    “Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done,” Turzai said, ticking off a list of the GOP’s legislative accomplishments.”First pro-life legislation — abortion facility regulations — in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor [Mitt] Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

    He didn’t say that it was passed for that purpose, but that would be the effect. You can make the case that reducing fraudulent voting will have the effect of allowing Romney to win the state without that being the purpose.

    Trust me, we have Republican political leaders this stupid in Idaho, too.

  3. Bitter says:

    That’s basically what the GOP here did. You can get a voter ID card from the DMV for free. I actually thought the voter ID bill here was a good balance of easy to get while still maintaining that you have to show an ID before you vote. Even then, you can still cast a provisional ballot if something happened to your ID, you just have about a week or so to go get your ID and show them so they can count your ballot in the results.

    If this comments ends up used in a lawsuit that tosses this law, I’ll be pissed.

    • Sage Thrasher says:

      If things are as you describe them in PA, that makes it even more difficult to understand opposition to voter ID requirements for voting.

  4. MrCrispy says:

    Can I just point out that there isn’t actually a constitutionally protected right to vote in federal elections? The only thing the constitution says about it is that, where it is allowed, it just can’t be restricted based on race, gender, age (and prohibiting a poll tax). Other than that, no right. (this was verified in the Bush vs. Gore supreme court case) and there have been amendments introduced to actually add it.

    Some state constitutions have text granting it within the state, mind you.

    • Sebastian says:

      That may have been the case before many of the civil rights cases in the 1960s, but in the 1960s, the Court found a fundamental right to vote in the 14th Amendment, in addition to the Amendments relating to voting rights.

      • MrCrispy says:

        If you look at the most recent supreme court ruling on the subject, however, they determined that “The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College.” (Bush vs. Gore, Section II Paragraph B)

        But don’t take my word for it. Why don’t we ask Michael C. Dorf, Vice Dean and professor of law at Columbia University: http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dorf/20001213.html

        Even Wikipedia’s entry on voting rights in the US: “The “right to vote” is explicitly stated in the US Constitution in the above referenced amendments but only in reference to the fact that the franchise cannot be denied or abridged based solely on the aforementioned qualifications. In other words, the “right to vote” is perhaps better understood, in layman’s terms, as only prohibiting certain forms of legal discrimination in establishing qualifications for suffrage. States may deny the “right to vote” for other reasons.”
        ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_rights_in_the_United_States )

        • Sebastian says:

          Presidential elections are somewhat distinct because we don’t popularly elect the President, technically. The states choose the means by which electors are chosen. But nonetheless, the Courts, in several opinions, have classified voting as a fundamental right. The professor you reference says it’s a “peculiar” fundamental right, but I don’t see how it’s any more peculiar than others.

          Marriage is also considered a fundamental right, according to the Court, but yet it can still be subject to licensing by the state.

          • MrCrispy says:

            Fundamental and constitutionally protected are two different things and these statements/arguments are specifically for the constitutionally protected right. As I’ve said before, it’s not there. (also, a somewhat unrelated fun fact: the word “democracy” doesn’t show up anywhere in the constitution either)

            Right now, for example, if a state wanted to pass a law that says anyone who is currently on food stamps is not allowed to vote in a presidential election, that would be perfectly fine under current constitutional law. It would be political suicide, mind you.

            So people complaining about needing to show and ID to vote are essentially complaining that a non-existent constitutional right is being violated.

            HOWEVER: I do now know what Pennsylvania’s state constitution says. There may be something in there at which point that completely throws everything into an entirely different discussion.

            • Sebastian says:

              Right now, for example, if a state wanted to pass a law that says anyone who is currently on food stamps is not allowed to vote in a presidential election, that would be perfectly fine under current constitutional law. It would be political suicide, mind you.

              There are a number of arguments you could use to suggest that this would not be constitutional, and was means to disenfranchise blacks, contrary to the 15th Amendment. There has never been a case like this, true, but depending on the state or jurisdiction, it would require pre-clearance from the feds in order to proceed.

  5. Andy B. says:

    There is a more fundamental theme concealed in this issue than what is being debated. That is, that a lot of people who spout about “rights” and “liberty” have their fingers crossed behind their backs, and really mean “rights and liberty for the Right Kinds of People.” Suppression of voting rights (for people who will presumably vote Wrong) is just the current, somewhat subtle approach to that. More would emerge later, much to the surprise of many people who helped carry the proponents of qualified rights to power.

  6. Matthew Carberry says:

    “If Mayor Rahm or Bloomberg suddenly admitted the purpose of their gun laws was to limit gun ownership as much as possible, rather than to prevent crime, we’d be quietly saying, “Jackpot! Keep talking buddy.””

    Isn’t this what partly led to the ruling on carry out of maryland? That the state admitteed they were trying to effect crime rates via general disarmament?

  7. Ash says:

    At least he was honest. As Sage said, show me some actual voter fraud, as opposed to voter registration fraud caused by paying folks to collect registrations. These type of laws have always been about suppressing the votes of the ‘wrong kind of people’.

    • Alpheus says:

      This is anecdotal (and I have no idea how to measure this statistically), but I remember one year when one of my wife’s co-workers went in to vote, and his name was already signed for. Another co-worker talked about getting several phone calls throughout the day, saying “Here’s where you need to vote, who you need to vote as, and who you need to vote for”.

      So, yes, voter fraud happens. In this case, it was New York. Yet, I strongly suspect that the places where this happens the most (New York and Chicago, especially) are also least likely to pass such reforms. The Political Machines are just too healthy there!

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