Pennsylvania is a large, crucial swing state that leans a bit more Democratic than its neighbor Ohio. President Obama must win Pennsylvania if he is to retain the White House. That’s about to become more difficult. Republicans in Pennsylvania’s state Senate passed a bill Wednesday—on a mostly party-line vote—to require that voters show photo identification in order to vote. Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican, supports the bill and will sign it into law once the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives passes it. Voter identification laws disenfranchise those without a photo ID. Multiple studies have shown that people without IDs are more likely to belong to a Democratic-leaning constituency, such as low-income, minority or young voters. It can also fall especially hard on people with disabilities and the elderly. That’s why Democrats oppose such a law. And as the Associated Press reports, “Counties, civil liberties advocates, labor unions, the AARP and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also objected to the bill.”
The AP also notes, “The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania has warned lawmakers that adding the additional step of requiring poll workers to check photo IDs will create longer Election Day lines at polling places.” Long lines at polling booths can cause people to give up and go home. That happened in many Ohio polling places in 2004. Some experts, such as Mark Crispin Miller of New York University, argue that those problems in Ohio may have thrown the election to President Bush.
The Pennsylvania bill is actually more moderate than many of its progenitors in states such as Georgia. Valid identification includes a student ID card from a Pennsylvania college or university, identification from a personal care home or employee cards for county or municipal workers. Voters without identification will be able to cast provisional ballots. However, they would then have to return within six days to prove their eligibility. Such an onerous burden will often go unmet, meaning votes will be thrown out.
Full Article: Bad News for Voting Rights in Swing States | The Nation.