Pennsylvania, just like Texas and Wisconsin, will not be able to use the state’s voter ID law because the courts found that it excludes voters. This is a fair ruling, because these laws were approved with the goal of benefitting a party instead of fighting election fraud.
It all began with a 2008 court ruling that found that an Indiana voter ID law was not an “undue burden.” From there on and thanks to the 2010 GOP victory in several states, people took advantage of the ruling to launch a campaign to tackle the problem, really a minor one, of poll fraud on the part of illegal voters.
Some of these laws are now being put on ice because legislatures imposed documentation requirements without doing anything to facilitate access to the documents, and political convenience was used in accepting one type of ID over another. This made it harder for students, retirees, poor people and minorities to participate in elections.
A report by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found that from 20002010, 2,068 cases of voting fraud were reported, but only 10 involved in-person voter impersonation. There were also 491 cases of absentee-ballot fraud and 400 cases of voter registration fraud. However, neither of these two areas worries the GOP.
It is ironic that voter registration fraud is precisely what has turned into a scandal involving the Republican National Committee, since it hired a voter registration service that had problems in 2004. Now, it once again registered fake Republicans in several key states, like Colorado, Florida and more. In Riverside County, California, in an unrelated case, fake Republicans were also found to have been registered recently.
It is unfortunate that the Republican Party decided, decades ago, to discourage and prevent people from voting as an election strategy, under the argument of “preventing fraud.”
People still remember when in 1988, private security guards hired by a Republican state candidate intimidated Latinos in Orange County. At the federal level, the GOP had in 1982 signed a consent decree to end “ballot security” programs in minority precincts.
Today there are no guards. However, in Houston, a group of Tea Party sympathizers, the King Street Patriots, harassed minority voters at the polls in 2010 and is planning to do it throughout the country in the November election. And of course, there are also voter ID laws.
It is unfortunate for our democracy that even today, after several decades have passed since the approval of the Voter Rights Act, this strategy still exists. Instead of focusing their plans on winning supporters, politicians are trying to win elections by changing the rules and disenfranchising voters.