The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania (LWVPA) and other coalition organizations have sued the state of Pennsylvania in an effort to stop implementation of their voter photo ID law. The trial to decide whether Pennsylvania’s new voter photo ID law is allowed under its state constitution began today. Yesterday, the U.S. Justice Department announced it is investigating that new law to see if it complies with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. This is the first time the DOJ has investigated a state not covered by Section 5 in relation to photo ID.
Now we have learned that the state of Pennsylvania reports not one instance of voter impersonation at the polls. The state has signed a stipulation agreement with opposition lawyers for plaintiffs including LWVPA and 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite which says, “The parties are not aware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania and do not have direct personal knowledge of in-person voter fraud elsewhere. ... Respondents will not offer any evidence or argument that in-person fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absence of the Photo ID law.”
Why, then, is the state of Pennsylvania requiring the 750,000 registered PA voters who don’t have an ID now get one? Why put up unnecessary barriers to voting for problems that don’t exist? This is yet another example of a state that cannot point to one instance of voter impersonation but can point to hundreds of thousands of registered voters in the state that will have to overcome additional barriers in order to vote in November. In all those states where legislators have invoked voter photo ID as the solution to voter impersonation, we have seen that voter photo ID is a solution searching desperately for a problem.
Once again the League of Women Voters is in the forefront of fighting these voter suppression laws. November elections are not far off: It is time to strike down these laws and help prepare voters for Election Day by helping educate them on the issues, register to vote and urge them to get to the polls and vote. Our democracy ceases to be a democracy if we don’t allow voters to cast a ballot and have their vote counted. The League will continue to fight nationwide to protect all voters’ rights each and every time those rights are threatened.