Justices Raise Policy Concerns During Arguments Over New Voter ID Law

, The Legal Intelligencer

   | 6 Comments

Two of the Democrats on the state Supreme Court dominated questioning during oral arguments Thursday in Philadelphia over the challenge to Pennsylvania's new voter ID law.

What's being said

  • Defending thsoe who need defending

    The real issue is the economic difficulty and time wasted for those (almost entirely the lower class citizens) in obtaining "valid" identification. The number of stories about individuals who have difficulty in obtaining the identification so far outweighs the number of attempted fraudulent voters (essentially none) it is clear, whatever the original motive, that the law, if allowed to stand, will limit the voting rights of our poorest and least literate and most in need citizens. They are the group that is most deserving of the right to vote, and who most need the protections of our courts, our legislature and our people.

  • Defending thsoe who need defending

    The real issue is the economic difficulty and time wasted for those (almost entirely the lower class citizens) in obtaining "valid" identification. The number of stories about individuals who have difficulty in obtaining the identification so far outweighs the number of attempted fraudulent voters (essentially none) it is clear, whatever the original motive, that the law, if allowed to stand, will limit the voting rights of our poorest and least literate and most in need citizens. They are the group that is most deserving of the right to vote, and who most need the protections of our courts, our legislature and our people.

  • Clueless in Florida

    To TimeToSpeakUp
    I am not trying to defend Republicans vs. Democrats in this argument - but it is quite apparent what your party affiliation is. I do have concerns about ANY restriction of legitimate voting rights. However, making an argument by asserting your conclusions as fact ("motivation of the GOP to steal a presidential election"; "elected officials' breach of their oath to uphold the Constitution") does not convince me. Also, implicit in your statements above is that virtually everyone who cannot show a valid ID would have voted Democrat. Generally speaking, I admit that I am a skeptic. I have concerns about anyone making statements of fact without verification - "I am who I say I am and have the right to vote. Trust me." You still have not explained how showing a valid ID is tantamount to disenfranchising anyone. I agree that democracy is not served by being clueless, it is served by an informed and involved electorate. I still do not see how having to show an Id is such an onerous deterrent to anyone voting. Sorry.

    To Steven Margolis
    Your analogy is interesting, but I think that it overstates the problem. I am not that familiar with PA and its issues. I was alluding to the turmoil that resulted in recriminations from both sides in the 2000 presidential election. The fact that the state (PA) cannot demonstrate actual cases of fraud does not indicate to me that it does not happen. This is the government after all - they tend to be the ones who are TRULY clueless. I think we can all agree that for elections to mean anything they have to be conducted in as fair and impartial manner as possible. I agree with the fact that if it is impossible to get IDs before the election, then they obviously cannot be enforced now. Recently here in Florida there was the first prosecution (probably in memory) involving voter fraud. I suspect it is one of those things that until all of the relatively recent hoopla that nobody really paid much attention. Most elections are not that close to really bring the issue to the attention of the general population. The upcoming election by all accounts will be extremely close - and only a few votes in the battleground states (Florida is one) could swing the result one way or the other. I disagree with your analogy in that enforcing Ids would "kill the patient." I don't know what your signature looks like, but I would guess that at least 50% on file are illegible, and that the people comparing them wouldn't know the difference anyway. While I suppose that it is possible that they can be counterfeited, Florida licenses have watermarking and other processing to make it extremely difficult. All I am advocating is that for someone who does not have Id today (and assuming that it actually is onerous to obtain it): (a) if they cannot afford it, provide it at no cost, (b) if they have difficulty getting to a DMV station (or equivalent), provide them with transportation, (c) since most employers give time off to vote, have it apply to getting their Id (or mandate by law that they give the appropriate time off). To require you to prove that you are who you say you are (this is not a poll tax or other disqualifying test or whatnot) is NOT killing democracy. It is just insuring the integrity of the voting process.

  • Steven Margolis

    To Clueless in Florida:

    Let me give you an analogy: Antibiotics are wonderful drugs; used properly, they can save lives; however, unnecessary usage, i.e. when there is no disease to treat, has led to 'super' bug infections like MRSA, which end up killing the patients.

    If there was an ACTUAL in-person voter fraud problem in PA, then PERHAPS there MIGHT be an argument to support voter ID laws. HOWEVER, it has been stipulated by the state that there has NEVER been a case of in-person voter fraud prosecuted, nor even identified as having occurred in PA in the history of all elections ever. By legislating a solution to a problem which doesn't exist, you will effectively, per the analogy, kill the patient (in this case the democratic process). That is because you can't cure what doesn't exist, and the risk that even 1 citizen gets denied the right to vote to correct a problem that doesn't exist is too great a cost. (BTW, the state has admitted that it would be IMPOSSIBLE to generate all of the necessary voter ID cards needed to guarantee that all eligible voters have proper ID prior to the November elections). That being the case, justice requires that the implementation of this unnecessary law, at a minimum, be delayed until after the elections, so there is time for all eligible voters to obtain proper ID before the next election.

    I would also note that in PA, they have your actual signature at the polls, scanned onto the voting form, from when you registered to vote. Further, when you check in, they have you sign the document and match your signature with the prior one, when you vote. Thus fraudulent in-person voting, is already a practical impossibility. It is much easier to create a fake photo ID; just saying.

  • TimeToSpeakUp

    To Clueless in Florida:
    Does it not concern you that the Republicans have introduced over 180 voter restriction bills in at least 41 states since 2011? When viewed in conjunction with the outrageous and, at least in Pennsylvania, unconstitutional redistricting plans advanced by the GOP, do you not begin to see a pattern here? Are we to ignore the apparent motivation of the GOP to steal a presidential election by glibly stating "Hey, what's wrong with a photo ID?" Is it that easy to close your eyes to elected officials' breach of their oath to uphold the Constitution? Democracy is not served by being clueless.

  • Guess I am Clueless

    All of the argument against Voter Ids seems to be that it is a terrible burden on minorities to obtain this document. I am in Florida where I have had to show Id seemingly forever. I had to show Id to obtain a Library Card and need to show Id for almost every kind of transaction imaginable. It strikes me that showing Id is part of everyday life. If the burdened individual can make it to the polling booth to vote, they can get to DMV or wherever to obtain Id. Considering that the 2000 election was decided by only a few votes here in Florida, it concerns me that even a very small amount of fraud can swing an election. I guess I am just clueless.

Comments are not moderated. To report offensive comments, click here.

Preparing comment abuse report for Article #1202571261258

Thank you!

This article's comments will be reviewed.