Monday, July 30, 2012

Partisan Politics and the U.S. Voter ID Law Saga

Pennsylvania Voter ID information

The emergence of U.S. Voter ID laws across the United States has turned into a partisan battle. Republicans are behind the Voter ID laws (and their voting base is least impacted by them), and Democrats are contesting the laws (and their voting base is most impacted by them). Voter ID is essential for a well-functioning democracy in order to prevent illegal and non-eligible voters from casting ballots. Yet, it is unclear why the voter ID, in some states like Texas, has to be state ID only. However, the requirement for state ID only to vote does not in-of-itself prove disenfranchisement. Nor does the requirement that voters without the ID travel to state offices to attain the ID. Hopefully, the U.S. courts determining the outcome of these laws will allow objectivity and sound legal principles to prevail.

Example of partisan battle:

Democratic election inspector from Pennsylvania says he will not enforce the Voter ID laws:

Delco election official vows to defy ID law
By Mari A. Schaefer and Julie Zauzmer, Inquirer Staff Writers

Even as the fate of Pennsylvania's new voter-identification law plays out in a Harrisburg courtroom, an election official in Delaware County is vowing not to enforce it.

Christopher L. Broach, a Democratic inspector of elections in the tiny borough of Colwyn, said he would not ask voters to prove who they are on Election Day.

"To ask me to enforce something that violates civil rights is ludicrous and absolutely something I am not willing to do," Broach said Thursday in an interview.

An IT consultant, Broach was elected inspector of elections but has recently acted as judge of elections to fill a vacancy. He called the law a ploy by the Republican-controlled legislature, "a wholly unethical decision that violated civil rights for the sake of getting Mitt Romney elected."

Though Broach is the only official publicly taking such a stance, Philadelphia's nonpartisan Committee of Seventy received a call from a Pittsburgh poll worker saying he, too, plans not to demand photo ID from voters he knows. The law has set off defiant talk among voters as well, with a few vowing to vote without the required forms of photo ID.

"If I get turned away from the polling place," said Democrat Jean Yetter, 65, of East Stroudsburg, "I will never vote again."

The talk isn't all from Democrats. In Radnor Township, Jane Golas, a Republican inspector of elections, said she wondered how she could ask anyone for identification when she will have to count ballots of absentee voters who are not held to the same standards.

"This is a move by people to suppress the vote in the city of Philadelphia," Golas said. "We never had an issue with people coming in to fraudulently vote."

Marcel L. Groen, the longtime leader of Montgomery County Democrats, said in an e-mail, "I have heard from some voters that they will not provide ID when requested. It is not widespread at this point.

"More importantly, a number of election officials indicated that in the primary, many people were upset about showing ID. Then, it was only optional. There are concerns about long lines and frayed tempers."

In another example, Democrat and N.Y. Columnist, Charles Blow says that the Voter ID laws cause disenfranchisement:

Democrat Rant or Cry?

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