In recent years states have been passing voter ID laws. And many of them have been getting a lot of backlash for them. Some of them include Indiana and Pennsylvania. Voter ID’s don’t sound very detrimental or life changing right? I mean you need an ID to get into a movie, buy alcohol, and even to buy cough medicine. So what exactly is the big fuss about? Well the left say it is discriminating against minorities and the poor. While the right says it’s trying to eliminate voter fraud. So the question that we are now faced with is who is right?
And from what I have learned this week both sides are kind of right. In 2005, the state of Indiana passed a voter ID law. The law requires that a valid photo ID must be presented by a person casting a ballot at a polling station. The law caused a big problem and we appealed all the way to the Supreme Court. CNN’s Bill Mears wrote an article depicting the court’s ruling entitled, “High court upholds Indiana’s voter ID laws. ” The article states, “The 6-3 vote allows Indiana to require the identification.”
Mears also comments by saying that this was, “the biggest voter rights case taken up by the justices since the 2000 dispute over Florida’s ballots, in which George W. Bush prevailed to gain the presidency. ” The article also quotes Justice John Paul Stevens who wrote the majority for the court saying, “[A]ny political issues considered by the state were mitigated by its desire to stop voter fraud. ” While the article also quotes the dissenting opinion judge, Justice David Souter by stating, “Indiana has made no such justification for the statute and as to some aspects of its law, it hardly even tried.”
Personally I believe the most important part of this law that makes this law justifiable is this quote by the article, “For those lacking a driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID such as a passport, the state provides a free voter ID card, issued through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. ” It makes the law not discriminate against minorities and the poor. It addresses the issue of purchasing the ID and only makes it a burden to actually get to a DMV. The article does a good job of showing both sides of the argument although focusing more on the liberal side than the conservative.
Some questions that this article has left me with are what are some problems with the Indiana law? Why do some judges still not support the law? And has this law affected voter turnout numbers? Another state recently in the news for voter ID laws is Pennsylvania. The article I read about this was an editorial written by Andrew Rosenthal and posted by the New York Times. The article was very liberally written. The article pointed out all of the flaws in Pennsylvania’s voter ID law. Some of these flaws are, “almost one fifth of the registered voters may not have an acceptable form of identification [In Philadelphia] to vote on Election Day.
Statewide, almost one-tenth may not. ” The article also state, “The law will result in disproportionate harm to minorities, people with low incomes and senior citizens. ” A quote that jumps out to me from the articles is this, “There is no legitimate government interest that justifies the burden the law imposes on voters. ” The reason this quote stands out to me is one word. Burden. The law is just that a burden. It’s not good or bad it’s just a burden that some people don’t want to put up with… Until I read a quote by Mike Turzia, the Republican House Majority leader in Penn.
House. He boasted that the law, “allow Governor Romney to win the State of Pennsylvania. ” This is when my opinion of the Pennsylvania law shifted. At first I believed the law was written and passed to eliminate and cut down on voter fraud like the Indiana law but reading that quote has me to believe otherwise. Although the article is written from a very liberal aspect I still believe the quote is the quote and the House Majority leader said either way no matter what type of article it was written in.
Some question that this article left me with. One question is what is the true purpose behind the Pennsylvania ID law? Another is why didn’t the lawmakers of Pennsylvania take the same precaution measures as Indiana? And my final question is was the committee who wrote the bill bi-partisan or just conservative? The final article I read was an interview done by NPR’s Michel Martin. Martin interviewed Columbia law professor Nathan Persily. Throughout the article Persily did a good job of arguing for both sides of the argument.
He argued for the negative side by stating, “700,000 people in Pennsylvania who voted in the 2008 election don’t have a photo ID and one in four of those don’t have the required documents such as a birth certificate. ” This was a new argument that I had not seen until this article and made me think about how older African American voters who weren’t born in hospitals don’t even have a record of birth so it brings up the question what do we do with those in that situation and those who don’t possess their birth certificate. That only creates a new obstacle for them to jump over to vote.
Persily said for the positive side, “Indian passed a photo ID law prior to the 2006 and 2008 elections; they didn’t find that it had a huge racially disparate impact. ” This quote proves that the voter ID laws do not seem to be racially discriminate even though liberals claim that they are. Martin also said, “You need a photo ID to get to an airplane. So why is this so hard? ” In regards to the affirmative sides of the argument. Some questions this article left me with are what ignited this voter ID bill trend? What state passed the first voter ID law?
And will each state that tries to pass a voter ID law have this much backlash from it? In the end I learned that depending on how the state approaches their voter ID laws depends on if I support them on it or not. If a state approaches it like Indiana, by passing the law a year before the next minor election year, and covers all of their bases then I support their law. But if they approach it like Pennsylvania by put the law into place the same year as a major election and not helping the impoverished and the minorities gain ID then it creates a problem.
Also if your representative openly says that the law passed has helped a candidate win their state then it sends up some serious red flags with me. So the questions that I’m left with now are, will Pennsylvania’s law be upheld for the upcoming election? What compelled the rep. to come right out and say it will help Romney win the state of Pennsylvania if he wants the law to continue to be upheld? And why didn’t Pennsylvania take the same measures as Indiana if they aren’t trying to discriminate and stiffen the minority vote?