Tuesday, July 24, 2012

PA Voter ID Debacle

Pennsylvania's voter ID law is under high scrutiny right now. After the ACLU found that more than 1,000,000 voters in PA were without the proper ID, Harrisburg started scrambling. Even more troublesome is that some older folks were not going to be able to obtain an ID due to lack of official documents that were not available. So this week, presumed to curtail the lawsuits and dispute the intention is voter suppression, the Corbett administration unveiled a new Voter ID that is obtainable with much less stringent conditions.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer,
"PennDot requires Pennsylvania residents seeking a nondriver ID to provide a Social Security card; a birth certificate with a raised seal; a certificate of U.S. citizenship or naturalization, or a valid passport; and proof of residency, such as tax records, lease or mortgage documents, a firearms permit, or utility bills."
Guess what...those forms of ID are the same exact forms of ID voters have always had to show at the polls in order to vote in a precinct in Pennsylvania the first time. In the past, voters could not vote in a precinct until their identity was confirmed via the same IDs that will be required to obtain a new Voter ID. This was only required the first time they voted in that precinct. However, if a voter moved, they would be required to show ID again.

So let's walk through this. According to the Inquirer article, instead of showing the acceptable forms of ID to say three poll workers when a voter signs into to vote, the voter now shows the IDs to one PennDOT employee. This employee then uses the given identification to create a Voter ID with photo that is good for ten years.

Let's presume for a moment, that voter ID fraud actually happened in PA (there is no evidence that is has). How did it happen? Well, since people who have not voted at a precinct before had to present a form of ID (as stated above), the fraudulent voter would have had to stolen or borrowed someone else's social security card, utility bill, birth certificate, etc. etc. The voter would then have presented these IDs to a poll worker while at least two more poll workers looked on. If a poll worker, or anyone else for that matter in the polling location, suspected this person was not who they claimed to be, the vote could be contested and the precinct judge would be required to fill out paperwork.

Now let us look at how this new ID will prevent such fraud from taking place. A potential criminal looking to obtain a fraudulent voter ID will have to steal or borrow someone else's social security card, utility bill, birth certificate, etc. etc. The criminal would then present these IDs to one Pennsylvania Department of Transportation employee. This employee would then create a photo ID that  has the mug shot of the criminal on a legal voter ID that will allow the criminal to commit voter fraud for ten consecutive years until the ID expires. 

Wait...that doesn't seem to prevent fraud at all, does it? 

No, it does not. While many people do have a proper form of ID to present at the polls, requiring a photo ID does not prevent fraud. Ask any underage drinker who cons his way into bars with Fake IDs how easy it is to obtain fraudulent ID. And well, I think this new Voter ID just makes it so much easier to commit fraud because you only have to fake it one time to obtain a ten year ID. 

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