Can GOP find votes in wreckage of Pennsylvania voter ID law?
A Pennsylvania judge on Tuesday reversed his earlier decision to let the state proceed with a tough new voter ID law in time for the 2012 election. The about-face could give the GOP some ammunition to rouse its base.
(Page 2 of 2)
Republicans have given that narrative plenty of fodder, as in the case of the Pennsylvania Republican who said at a GOP dinner in June that the state's voter ID law “is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
What’s more, opponents of voter ID laws have had the more powerful appeal, some political scientists say. They have identified actual voters, some of them elderly, who faced potentially insurmountable difficulties in voting this year, despite assurances from Pennsylvania officials that all eligible voters would be able to cast a ballot.
“Studies that point to the potential for voter fraud just don’t have the same appeal as personal narratives of the 90-year-old woman who marched with Martin Luther King who might lose her right to vote,” says Mr. Borick at the Institute of Public Opinion.
New voter ID laws in Indiana, Georgia, and a handful of other states have survived legal challenges. But laws in Texas, South Carolina, and Wisconsin have run into problems in the courts and, in some cases, opposition from the US Department of Justice. (US Attorney General Eric Holder this summer equated a disputed voter ID law in Texas to a “poll tax,” in reference to Jim Crow-era attempts to keep African-Americans from voting.)
While Democrats argue that such laws are unneeded because examples of in-person voter fraud are few, Republicans point to Georgia as an example of a state where minority representation in the vote rose dramatically after a voter ID law went into effect.
Last month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered Judge Simpson to reconsider his earlier decision to allow the law to take effect in time for the election, saying he must ensure that the state will meet its promise of providing easy access to photo IDs. It also said he had to block the law if he believes it will prevent any registered voter from casting a legal, countable ballot.
Last week, Simpson heard new testimony that included stories of confused government clerks and long lines at driver's license offices, as well as new requirements that made the process of securing an ID lengthy and cumbersome for some voters.
“The big issue really was, will this law be ready in 2012, and the high court said that’s not a given and, therefore, why rush it?” says Bolick. “The courts want to honor the democratic process, but also ensure the rights of individuals. Time is the answer in their mind.”
RECOMMENDED: Could you pass a US citizenship test? Take our quiz!