Once again the editorial writers at the Post- Gazette are lost in the weeds of non- thinking. This time they are lamenting Republican efforts to pass legislation requiring voters to produce a photo ID when they vote. The editorial writer claims it is all an attempt to depress Democrat voter turnout because the voters without ID are likely to be elderly, poor or a minority and that means they must be Democrat. When did it become a law that elderly or minority folks cannot be Republicans?
Two questions arise immediately. Where is most voter fraud taking place? No need to answer that when we have the sorry stories of ACORN’s machinations and a long history of funny vote totals and results across the country. Maybe the Black Panther voter intimidation case in Philadelphia has been forgotten.
Second, why is it assumed that elderly can get to the polls but cannot get a photo ID? Anyone who can apply for welfare, food stamps, public housing, etc. should be able to get a photo ID. Anyone with a driver’s license already has a photo ID. The people most likely to be unable to get a legitimate photo ID are probably ineligible to vote in the first place. If a person has the gumption to get out and vote and is willing to register to vote, that person should be willing and able to get a photo ID. Provisions can easily be made to have a photo center set up by the counties’ election bureaus to issue photo IDs when a voter registers if they do not have one.
Widespread and unchecked abuse of the sanctity of the voting booth and privilege of voting is a sure and certain way to undermine the electoral process and eventually a republic based on the consent of the governed. Condoning or refusing to condemn such abuse amount to aiding and abetting the practice.
It is a shame we cannot trust one another to behave honorably. But the answer is not to bury our heads in the sand and ignore a subversive practice by refusing to take reasonable steps to end it.
Allegheny County voters were in a pox-on-all-your-houses mood in Tuesday’s primary elections. Only 20 percent of Republican and 23 percent of Democrat voters showed up to cast ballots. Pre-election predictions by the elections bureau had estimated a 28 percent turnout.
What happened? Clearly, voters were not captivated by the candidates or were perhaps displaying an overall discontent with politicians and government. Does that augur well or poorly for the next few years and does it foretell anything about the November turnout?
Time will tell of course but it cannot be a good sign when the minority, out of power party can only get 20 percent of its registered voters to the polls. How can it hope to overcome a nearly 5 to 2 registration deficit when only a fifth of its voters are excited enough to vote in the primary?
And what does it tell us about the hotly contested majority party race for Chief Executive when only 23 percent of its voters showed up? Voter apathy? Voter disgust? Or was it more a view that no matter which candidate won, the County government would be run by people who reflect the opinions of the party’s non-voters?
Overall and for whatever reasons, Tuesday was not a great day for representative government.
Let’s see, you cannot cash a check without a picture ID, make a credit card purchase without picture ID, see a new doctor or go to the hospital without ID but, according to some folks, you should be allowed to vote without one. The most sacred and, therefore, the citizen’s right most in need of protection from abuse, is the right to help choose who will govern.
Yet there are those who argue that it is an imposition on the poor to require a photo ID. If they drive, they have one already. If they receive public assistance they almost certainly have one. Who are the people who would not have one? Old people who have never had a license? Old people in nursing homes filling out absentee ballots with the help of party operatives?
There are many ways to commit voter fraud. But certainly no one-except military serving overseas-should get an absentee ballot without showing up at the Courthouse and presenting ID. But to argue that it is too much of an imposition on the poor to require they have ID is completely fatuous. If they can get to the polls, they can get to an agency that will provide a photo ID. Besides, if a person places a high value on voting, the requirement of getting an ID will not be an obstacle.
Low voter turnout in boring or meaningless elections is not a function of whether voter ID is required. Lousy candidates, disenchantment with government and a belief that it does not matter who wins keep voters at home.