For those who are following the news, Pennsylvania House Bill 934, the bill that requires certain specific photo identification to be provided at the polls to vote, became law last week after three days of debate. This reportedly makes Pennsylvania one of the toughest states in the nation on voter identification.
The law will have a trial run with primary elections this year, but voters who have ID that until now was adequate — but do not have the specified identification listed in the new law — will still be permitted to vote in the primary. The real test will be in the general election for U.S. president in November when voters without photo ID driver’s licenses, state-issued photo identifications or similar IDs listed will be told they can vote “provisionally” but must return within six days with that ID or fax or e-mail it within that time frame. Maybe the first point that should be noted is that the law is intended to deter people from voting.
The only question is whether the law will deter fraud — that is, keep the “wrong” people from voting — or will it reach further and prevent those who should be allowed to vote from voting or keep people from the polls because of crowds and confusion. A related issue, and an important one, is will it inject further uncertainty into the election process just at the time when the greatest number of people are expected to vote? Remembering some of the recent close-call elections — Florida comes to mind — do we really want to have to wait for more than six days to find out what the final result is from Pennsylvania while we consider whether “provisional” ballots will be counted?