No ID, No Vote, Ctd

Aug 15 2012 @ 8:07pm

by Chas Danner

The GOP's voter ID law in Pennsylvania, which combats non-existent in-person voter fraud, has been upheld:

Commonwealth Judge Robert Simpson said the individuals and civil rights groups challenging the law had not met the heavy burden of proving that it so clearly violated the state constitution that it should not be implemented. He said there was still time for those without proper ID to acquire it.

The case will likely now head to the (ideologically split) Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Last week Emily Badger took a look at the problem the law specifically creates for Philadelphia, where as many as 280K voters may need to get a law-approved ID before November:

Would-be voters [in Philadelphia] might have better access to the DMV, but they're less likely to have driver's licenses in the first place because it's so much easier to live in Philadelphia than in rural areas (or even the suburbs) without a car. … Herein lies the unique quandary in Philadelphia. It is a large, left-leaning city, with the public transportation system of an old Northeastern metro area built in the era before cars. But it happens, right now, to be located in a state with a Republican-controlled legislature. There are plenty of older cities in America where large numbers of people might not have driver's licenses. But most of those cities, as [the Brennan Center's senior counsel Keesha] Gaskins points out, are in solidly blue states where it’s highly unlikely that voter ID laws would pass in the first place. This is also true of places like Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle.

In 2008, Obama took 83% of the vote in Philadelphia. Badger also writes how regardless of whether or not the law is overturned, it has already created a great deal of confusion, which may also suppress turnout. Weigel thinks the law will force a strategy change for GOTV groups:

[The judge] was convinced by [the state's] simple, effective tactic of proving that all 14 sob-story ACLU et al witnesses could find ways to vote. The most likely political response to this, I'd guess, will be a more-aggressive Democratic/NAACP/labor campaign to get absentee ballots in the hands of their trouble voters — especially in places like Philadelphia — and instruct these people on how to justify the need for the ballot.