Voting is a sacred right for those in the United States of America. The right to vote is constantly sought after around the world. Whether countries are considered free or not can depend on if their citizens have the right to vote fairly.
In the landmark 2008 election, people were said to have flown to the polls to make the historic choice of choosing the first African-American president. This great flood of people actually came to 56.8 percent. Getting barely half the country to vote is not a great accomplishment, but it is still the highest voter turnout since 1968. Compare this to the 2010 midterm elections, where a pathetic 37.8 percent came out to the polls. My point is that voting is not as widely done in this country as it should be.
The government should be doing everything to get the people out to vote more. This is not the case currently. In their infinite wisdom, the Pennsylvania GOP-controlled legislature under Tom Corbett decided to pass a law to make it even more difficult to vote.
Voter turnout is bad enough as it is, so why make it harder? Is it to crack down on the widespread, sinister acts of voter fraud in our state? That’s what Tom Corbett wants you to think, but it is an obvious partisan political ploy to disenfranchise a certain block of voters.
In Pennsylvania, 1.3 million voters lack the required form of ID to exercise their Constitutional right. These people are disqualified because they have to show valid identification such as a drivers license or a passport. The problem is that a lot of people in this state do not have one. That is because they simply do not own a car or travel abroad. These people tend to be poorer than most Pennsylvanians and are also more likely to be minorities. The law even targets students. Bret M. Binder, State senate candidate of the 156th District, called the law an, “attempt to take away the power of the student vote.” Most importantly these people tend to vote Democrat instead of Republican.
There are 33 states that have proposed or adopted these laws. Almost all of them were done with Republican majorities. Some of the most important states that have implemented these laws (besides Pennsylvania) are Ohio and Florida. These states have one important thing in common. That is, they are battleground states that could go either Republican or Democrat in elections. Right now in these states, there is a Republican-dominated legislator in power. These voter ID acts are being spearheaded by the Republicans in order to get their candidates elected by keeping out those who would not vote for them.
If you do not believe me, just ask Republican House Majority leader Mike Turzai, who stated that these laws are “going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” That is the Republican agenda.
Republicans are supposed to be about limiting government except when it benefits them. Now they want people to get government-issued IDs and have people disbarred by the government from voting. This law enhances the reach of the government in the worst way possible. The total cost of this law comes to about $11 million of your tax dollars. Instead of investing in jobs or schools, they would rather do this. It is an intrusive law that violates the rights of citizens in a discriminatory fashion.
The Republicans still need a platform to stop these people from voting, so they harp on the enormous amounts of voter fraud in this country. Reality begs to differ with them.
A study done by the Carnegie-Knight Initiative showed that out of 2,068 cases of voter fraud, only 10 related to voter impersonation. Voter impersonation is where someone votes under a different name. Former Gov. Ed Rendell commented that in all his years in office, less than 10 accounts of voter fraud came up. Since the year 2004, no one has ever been convicted of voter impersonation. These laws are purely partisan tools implemented by Republicans. It is disgraceful that it is happening in a country that prides itself on freedom.
The law has been taken to the courts. I, for one, eagerly await the result. It could go either way. We will keep the campus posted on any results.
Jack Barnett is a fourth-year student majoring in history and political science. He can be reached at JB723722@wcupa.edu