On Heels of Admission that State Has Never Had a Case of Voter Fraud, PA’s Voter ID Law Goes to Court
Today, in a Harrisburg courtroom, Judge Robert Simpson will hear Applewhite et al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a case that pits a coalition of civil rights groups questioning the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law against the administration that authored it. On the federal level, the Justice Department is investigating the law to see if it discriminates against minorities, such as 93-year old civil rights activist Viviette Applewhite who is currently unable to vote.
Despite claims made by Governor Tom Corbett that 99 percent of Pennsylvanians already have proper ID, the truth is that upwards of 10 percent may not, creating a situation in which the GOP could squeak out an important battleground state while hundreds of thousands of would-be voters stand idly by. As we have noted multiple times, Rep. Mike Turzai openly suggested that passing the voter ID law “would allow Mitt Romney to win the election.”
The groups fighting the law may have caught a break this week when the state revealed that there have been no reported cases of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania to date, according to Talking Points Memo and court documents:
The state signed a stipulation agreement with lawyers for the plaintiffs which acknowledges there “have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states.”
Additionally, the agreement states Pennsylvania “will not offer any evidence in this action that in-person voter fraud has in fact occurred in Pennsylvania and elsewhere” or even argue “that in person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absence of the Photo ID law.”
Voter ID is classic ‘solution in search of a problem’ thinking. At worst, the push for such a suppressive policy is downright villainous and shows that Gov. Tom Corbett is more concerned with following an aggressive agenda set by the extreme wing of his party than he is in representing the people of the Commonwealth. The Justice Department is now asking Corbett to document his claims that 99 percent of Pennsylvanians have proper ID.
Because of a lack of racial discrimination historically, Pennsylvania is not even required to preclear changes to its voting rules. But, hey, why not write a little “racial discrimination” into the state’s history books while you’ve got the chance, right!?
DOJ’s probe marks the first time it has publicly acknowledged a formal investigation of a voter ID law passed in a state which is not covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires certain states with a history of racial discrimination to have changes to their voting laws precleared. The Pennsylvania investigation falls under Section 2 of the VRA, which prohibits any state from enacting a “voting standard, practice, or procedure that results in the denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.”