Wednesday, July 25, 2012

So, if there's been no evidence of voter fraud in Pennsylvania, why have republicans passed Voter ID laws?

In Pennsylvania, a new law requires voters to present photo ID, whereas previously they simply needed to offer a utility bill or bank statement with their name and address on it. So, the republican controlled state must have had a reason to do this, right? Um, not right. According to the International Business Times there's no evidence of voter fraud at all in the Keystone State:

In response to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, Pennsylvania acknowledged that there has been no evidence of voter fraud. 
There "have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania, and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states," a stipulation agreement signed by the state said.
So, why the voter ID if there's no evidence of fraud in the state? One GOP Leader has the honest answer. At a Republican State Committee meeting, Mike Turzai told his clappy audience truth about why Republicans are so insistent on voter identification efforts:
Source: Think Progress
Apparently Pennsylvanians aren't having any of it. According to TribLive:
Rally in Harrisburg PA
Source: TribLive
Supporters and opponents of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law agree on one thing: Politics drive the battle over whether to keep the law that heads to court on Wednesday.
Opponents rallied at the Capitol on Tuesday, saying the Republican-controlled Legislature approved Act 18 to suppress voting in the Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia and keep President Obama from carrying the state in the November election. 
Several speakers pointed to a June 23 comment by House Majority Leader Mike Turzai of Bradford Woods to the Republican State Committee: “Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. (Mitt) Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania — done.”
“Mike Turzai confirmed it,” said Rep. Ron Waters, D-Philadelphia, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus. 
But Allegheny County Republican Committee Chairman Jim Roddey called a U.S. Justice Department investigation of Pennsylvania’s law “an attempt by the Obama White House to get voter ID overturned.”

What's going on here??
Everyone knows what's going on here. Republicans are clearly trying, state by state, to tip the scales in their favor come election day. And in addition to voter roll purges, republican officials are attempting to use voter ID laws to eliminate  peoples' eligibility. Voter fraud is not something that has been a major problem in many years, and recent elections are no exception. So why are they doing this now? International Business Times explains:
Legislatures across the country, nearly all of them controlled by Republicans, have passed laws that require voter ID, roll back early voting and impose new limits on voter registration. Sponsors of the laws say they are trying to ensure elections are legitimate, but opponents warn that minority, elderly and low-income voters will face unwarranted obstacles en route to the voting booth. 
Critics of voter ID laws note that minorities and elderly voters are disproportionately likely to lack photo identification, raising fears that members of traditionally Democratic-leaning constituencies will be turned away on Election Day.
Pennsylvania is typically one of a handful of heavily contested states on which presidential elections pivot, so the stakes are high. The Republican majority leader of Pennsylvania's House of Representatives gave ammunition to the voter ID law's critics, when he suggested that it could help presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney win the state. 
Obama Administration Acts. The Obama administration has sent a a letter to Pennsylvania's top election official, Thomas Perez, invoking a provision in the Voting Rights Act that bars racial discrimination in voting laws to request more information about the state's voter ID law. The Obama campaign is going after Ohio for similar infractions.

Unless you've been consciously ignoring the news--or just watching the mainstream news, or reading the mainstream news, basically news--you might not know about the Tea Party republican's efforts to disenfranchise voters. And by that I mean prevent voters from voting at all, because they don't have the proper "ID." Republicans say this is essential to prevent voter fraud. But voter fraud isn't a problem in this country at all. I take that back. It IS a problem, but not from voters who commit fraud, but from elected Tea Partiers who are disenfranchising them, because most of the voters who are being targeted are likely to vote democratic. More on this in a moment.

Back-Story: Voter Purge in Florida Florida: Home of the Big Win for Bush in 2000. It's well known American history that the fate of the election in 2000 hinged on the outcome in Florida. Back then, Katherine Harris was Secretary of State and Jeb Bush, George Bush's brother, was Governor. And between the two of them, they successfully eliminated thousands of eligible voters from Florida's voting rolls. Gore lost by less than 600 votes. In one front of this "war on voters," Florida's Tea Party, Governor Rick Scott, has tried to "purge" voter rolls of "unqualified" or "fraudulent" voters. He was unsuccessful, as the county election supervisors refused to do this on several grounds, including illegality, faulty and inaccurate data, and the fact that they'd already done this the year before (they do it on odd, non-election years). One election supervisor in Florida--all of whom are against Rick Scott on the issue--stated that "you're more likely to get hit by lightning that to find a case of voting fraud in Florida." The Obama administration has rightly warned them against this practice, and is concerned that Rick Scott is trying to undermine the Voting Rights Act.You can read the specifics about it HERE.

Find out Even More
Voting is the purest expression of our fundamental, democratic right. The insane--and ironically named--"right" clearly don't get this. (Or, if they do, they simply don't care.)  The map below from the ACLU outlines the states where voter suppression measures have been or are being considered. 

1 comment:

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