Thursday, August 16, 2012

Judge Allows GOP to Suppress Minority and Elderly Voters in Pennsylvania

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
As reported in the Washington Post,
A Pennsylvania judge Wednesday allowed a Republican-backed law requiring voters to show IDs to go into effect starting this Election Day, a setback for Democrats and civil rights groups who contend that such laws could deny many Americans the right to vote.
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson said those challenging the law had failed to prove that it violates the state constitution by denying voters’ rights. He also disputed the challengers’ predictions of the number of voters at stake and said there is still time for those without proper ID to acquire it...
Supporters of recent laws passed by several Republican legislatures requiring voters to show IDs say the measures protect the integrity of the electoral process by making sure only qualified voters cast ballots.
Democrats and minority groups counter that the restrictions are likely to disenfranchise voters — often minorities, the poor and elderly, those who live in urban areas and others who may not have the type of photo ID required....
Cases of voter impersonation fraud — the kind that would be stopped by photo ID laws — are exceedingly rare. Pennsylvania acknowledged that such fraud had not occurred in the commonwealth, nor was it likely to occur in the coming election, even without the law.
The bottom line is simple. The Republicans realize that they probably will not win the Presidential Election on the merits.  So what do they do?  They do everything in their power to suppress voters who tend to vote Democratic.

Their primary targets are African Americans, Latinos, the poor and the elderly.  A disproportionately high percentage of African Americans do not have the required government issued photo IDs.  Many elderly African Americans born were in rural areas during the Jim Crow time period and do not have birth certificates. Consequently, it is difficult if not impossible for them to get government photo IDs.  For those who are poor or on a fixed income, paying for a government photo ID or a birth certificate is basically a poll tax.  No one should be forced to choose between eating and voting.

Instead of just complaining about the problem, progressives must step up their efforts to ensure that all citizens have the necessary photo IDs and documentation.  We must intensify our voter registration, mobilization and education efforts.  If we don't, over 700,000 people in Pennsylvania alone may be disenfranchised.