In an election year rush pushed primarily by Republicans, Pennsylvania has become the 16th state to adopt a strict voter photo ID law and the ninth state to do so in the past year. The law requires voters to produce a Pennsylvania driver’s license or another government-issued photo IphilD, such as a U.S. passport, military ID, or county/municipal employee ID. The state will also accept college ID or personal care home IDs, as long as they are current and include an expiration date. “I am signing this bill because it protects a sacred principle, one shared by every citizen of this nation. That principle is: one person, one vote,” said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said at a signing ceremony in Harrisburg yesterday. “It sets a simple and clear standard to protect the integrity of our elections.”
Corbett is a Republican governor with Republican-led state legislature, just like six of the other eight states with new photo ID laws – Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. Mississippi, a very Republican-leaning state with a Republican governor and legislature, opted for a referendum, which passed last November, while Rhode Island, which also passed a new ID law, has a Republican-turned-Independent Governor (Lincoln Chafee) and a Democratic-controlled legislature. The mainly Republican sponsors of these laws contend the measures will prevent voter impersonation fraud, although sponsors in every state are hard-pressed to provide examples of very rarely prosecuted crime.
Supporters of South Carolina’s new voter photo ID law recently pointed to data suggesting ballots had been cast in the names of dead people more than 950 times, however, an investigation by the state election commission found no proof of fraud and only clerical errors. When “CBS Evening News” researchers asked the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts today how many people had been convicted of voter impersonation or voter fraud in the past five years, the answer was zero.