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Do We Need Voter I.D Law in an Election year?

Voter FraudDo we need voter I.D. cards in an election year?  Pennsylvania’s state Supreme Court on Thursday took up a controversial case over the state’s new voting law, which requires voters to furnish a photo ID before casting their ballots.  The question, however, is not whether Voter I.D. cards should be used, but rather, when and how a Voter I.D. law should be passed and implemented without violating the constitution.

As reported by CNN, Court spokesman Art Heinz said the case, which is an appeal from a lower court’s August 15 decision which upheld the law, is not expected to be resolved by Thursday.

At the heart of matter is whether the new requirement will disenfranchise voters during an election season that has already seen a series of high-profile legal challenges over voting procedures.

I don’t believe anyone disagrees with the concept of a voter providing proof of citizenship and age requirement.  But it  is the manner in which one must prove those two facts which is creating a political stir. Does requiring photo I.D. disenfranchise voters? Of course it does for those who do not have a photo I.D.

The time to figure out if a person is eligible to vote should be at the time one registers to vote, not on election day. Controversy surrounds these laws arise because new voters, elderly and minorties are perceived by political commentators to be the individuals to be the most effected by photo id laws. Therefore, if most elderly, minorities and new voters are democrats, then it likely follows that republicans would benefit from photo id laws.

In June, the state’s House GOP leader Mike Turzai told a group of fellow Republicans that the measure would “allow Governor Romney to win the State of Pennsylvania.” (source: CNN)

Moreover, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan public policy and law institute that focuses on the fundamental issues of democracy and justice at New York University School of Law, Fraud by individual voters is both irrational and extremely rare. Most citizens who take the time to vote offer their legitimate signatures and sworn oaths with the gravitas that this hard-won civic right deserves. Even for the few who view voting merely as a means to an end, however, voter fraud is a singularly foolish way to attempt to win an election. Each act of voter fraud risks five years in prison and a $10,000 fine – but yields at most one incremental vote. The single vote is simply not worth the price.

In a report by ABC News,  entitled Voter Fraud: Non-Existent problem or Election-Threatening Epidemic? they site that “Out of the 197 million votes cast for federal candidates between 2002 and 2005, only 40 voters were indicted for voter fraud, according to a Department of Justice study outlined during a 2006 Congressional hearing. Only 26 of those cases, or about .00000013 percent of the votes cast, resulted in convictions or guilty pleas.”

All of the above leads one to conclude that the brouhaha during an election year, is yet another political maneuver to which both parties have engaged throughout the history of American politics, and people latch onto one concept or another based on party ideology more than factual information.

 

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