More on the PA Voter ID Bill

I generally tend to be fairly pragmatic and circumspect when it comes to political matters, since even if reality sucks, it is what it is, and if you want to change anything you have to work with what is. But one still needs to keep a mind on where things should really be.

In that vein, it’s been very educational to watch the reaction to the Pennsylvania voter ID law (signed by Gov. Corbett tonight). It goes back to first principles. I agree with many of the arguments being used against this bill, and I’d be fine with saying you don’t need to have photo ID to vote. We ran a successful Republic long before Photo ID became ubiquitous in modern times. I’d be fine with agreeing you can vote without providing Photo ID, provided you also don’t need photo ID to buy a gun. Both are fundamental rights. But many of our opponents, both in the gun control movement and the left, are quite distraught over Pennsylvania’s photo ID bill for voting. They use the argument that is disenfranchises the poor, and disenfranchises minorities.

Yet these same people, who I might also add continue to deny that gun control is racist, don’t see a problem here with the dichotomy. Sorry, but gun control is still racist, if not in purpose, but in outcome. People in the gun control movement have continually thrown up barriers to exercising the right to keep and bear arms that present little obstacle for wealthy suburbanites, but who’s effect makes it difficult for poor inner city residents to do so. Even if this is not the intention, and that’s being charitable, this is the outcome. What I wonder is why that doesn’t concern more people, who claim to care so much about the rights of the poor and minorities.

If it’s a fundamental right, people should have equal access, and we accept the costs that come along with that, whether it be criminals buying guns, or criminals buying elections. You can’t have it both ways.

8 Responses to “More on the PA Voter ID Bill”

  1. I wonder if Eric Holder will announce that the PA Voter ID law is being challenged by the DOJ like he did recently with Texas.

    Are there any areas of Pennsylvania that are subject to the pre-authorization/pre-approval requirements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 like virtually all areas south of the Mason-Dixon line?

    • Dirk Diggler says:

      Not that I am aware of. NYC is subject to it, but that’s as far north as the DOJ has been.

  2. Sorry to drag this away from PA, but what I find interesting about the so-called “debate” surrounding the voter law in Texas is that there should be NO hardship surrounding the acquisition of an ID for voting.

    From the Texas DPS website:

    Voters will be required to present a driver license, personal identification certificate, military identification, election identification certificate, United States citizenship certificate passport, or concealed handgun license to participate in an election. DPS must create an election identification certificate to be issued by DPS for registered voters who do not have any of the other acceptable forms of photo identification. The election identification certificate will be distinguishable from a driver license or personal identification certificate, and will be issued free of charge to persons only if they do not hold any other acceptable form of identification, as listed in Election Code 63.0101. These forms of identification include a driver license, personal identification certificate, military identification, a United States citizenship certificate, passport, or concealed handgun license. (SB 14)

    • Bitter says:

      That actually doesn’t drag the debate away from PA because our bill included a similar provision. Anyone can go get basically a voting-only photo ID for free. As for seniors who they also claim will be left out, an elder care facility may issue photo IDs to their residents so they can vote. There are provisions for absentee ballot confirmation that actually allow compliance up to a few days after the election in order for the vote to be counted. They have made an effort to make it as easy as possible here.

      As much as our Philly liberals are screaming that this is so clearly illegal and there’s no doubt that it will be thrown out, the Obama campaign in PA released a statement that they will now include getting people set up with ID as a key component of their outreach. Clearly, the campaign realizes this will stand.

  3. Dirk Diggler says:

    Stop being logical! I have talked to people I know who are running civil rights organizations opposed to voter ID laws. They can’t really answer why I should have to not only have ID, but also pay large sums for this privilege, but also have to be “qualified”, which sounds a lot like a poll tax or voter test, each of which is illegal. Moreover, given the racist history of gun laws, they then espouse that guns cause crime. I point out all of the big cities where police are being cut and criminals are walking around with impunity (I have begun to refer to my place of birth (Detroit) as Little Mogadishu), and residents cowering in fear. Again, nothing intelligent as a response. I have figured out what it is, however. Just like there are those on the right who make a living making us afraid of everyone around us, there are those on the left who make a living on the sins of the past. Yes, this country was racist and still has racist tendencies. No quarles from me as a Black man on this subject. But. . . . at some point, when can we at least advance the ball? When can we at least try to find solutions instead of always pointing to the past as excuses?

    No one is saying gut civil rights laws or allow unfettered discrimination, but when you need ID to do every adult task in this country, whomever does not have ID has a problem beyond voting. Moreover, when you can get a passport (the very indicia of citizenship) without a birth certificate by use of “secondary ID” (such as an inscription in a family bible and an affidavit from a close blood relative (, I am sorry, but excuses are long over.

  4. karrde says:

    On the practical level, it is hard for an interested party to cheat enough to affect an election, unless they have thousands of foot-soldiers who cycle from district to district.

    Or unless the honest turnout is so small that the dishonest turnout swamps the honest turnout.

    Or unless they have access to an equal number of absentee ballots that have been issued/mailed to addresses that the cheating person/group has access to.

    Case 1 implies a large group of participants, and an inability to keep the operation a complete secret. (Ignored by the press is different from complete secret…)

    Case 2 means the honest voters don’t care about this election.

    Case 3 means that the absentee-voter mailing list has been polluted, either with false names or false addresses for good names…

    • Alpheus says:

      When we were living in New York State, my wife talked to someone who explained how, during voting day, he would get several calls, each telling him where to vote, what his “name” was, and how he should vote.

      So yes, this kind of thing really does happen…although I’m inclined to think that the States that are passing these Voter ID laws are the States in which this isn’t all that great a problem. Call me cynical, but I would expect that when a State is in the grips of a major political machine like New York is, that machine isn’t exactly going to make a move that will put sand in the gears.

  5. Samrobb says:

    I went looking for the final legislation, and found what I think is the final House bill – though I’d appreciate a pointer to the final bill. If there are no significant changes in the text, then the only difference I can see is that someone who is unable to provide *any* acceptable form of ID at all will be required to cast a provisional ballot instead of a regular ballot.

    Acceptable ID apparently includes things like a cancelled pay/government check, a utility bill, etc. That’s in addition to the preferred state/federally issued photo ID.

    So, really – unless you work really, *really* hard at making it otherwise: you’re going to get to cast your ballot, and it’s going to be counted. Someone may check up on you later to make sure you’re really who you said you were, though.