Pennsylvania Sued By 93-Year-Old Woman Over Discriminatory Voter ID Law

Yes, Pennsylvania’a new voter ID law (and similar laws in other states) is in fact discriminatory. I don’t care about rationalizations, because the Republican lawmakers responsible for these laws know exactly what they are doing. Their rationalizations might have convinced Republican voters that voter fraud is a serious problem, but for the rest of us these laws are a big steaming pile of horseshit.

These voter ID laws are intended to disenfranchise minority voters who are overwhelmingly likely to vote Democratic. It might be hard for many to believe, but millions of people do not have a photo ID in this country. Blacks and Hispanics are less likely to have a photo ID than whites, and because it costs money to obtain such an ID, these voter ID laws amount to a “poll tax”, something I thought we outlawed decades ago.

This is yet another example of a Republican position that seems like common sense but falls apart under close examination. Republicans ask, “Why not require a photo ID for something as important as voting?” But it’s the wrong question. We don’t solve problems by inventing problems. Where is the burden of proof on Republicans to show there is a voter fraud problem in this country? Some Republicans do recognize that there is no voter fraud problem but they insist we need these laws to protect against the possibility of voter fraud in the future. There’s definitely some serious rationalizing going on there. Does anybody else want their government operated this way? Republicans say they are for small government but time after time they show they are willing to disenfranchise millions of people with their policies.

Luckily people are fighting back, including a 93-year-old grandmother who is suing Pennsylvania over its discriminatory photo ID law. Viviette Applewhite has been an active voter for over 50 years, but this year she faces the possibility of being denied the right to vote because she does not have a birth certificate or a driver’s license. Conservatives who support these laws are likely going to say, “Why not just get a photo ID?” But again, that’s not the point. How can anyone think it is ok to tell a person they cannot exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right because they lack a photo ID, particularly a person who is 93-years-old and voted much of her adult life? There is no rationalizing your way out of this. It’s simply wrong. If you can vote in the next election, then so can Viviete Applewhite, regardless of whether she has a photo ID or not. Because the right to vote is guaranteed to us in the constitution without special qualifications, that means all of these state-level Republican voter ID laws are unconstitutional.

I’d tell Republicans to shove their voter ID laws up their asses but I’m afraid they might risk injury to their heads.


Election 2012Human RightsVoter Suppression

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