LETTER TO THE EDITOR
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Peter J. Daley
Voter ID law amounts to vote suppression
In case youíve missed it, Pennsylvania now has begun an effort to suppress voting. Last week, the House of Representatives voted on a new law that requires lawfully registered voters to present appropriate photo identification before they can exercise their right to vote. You will be asked during the primary election in April, and you will be turned away if you donít produce appropriate identification in the fall general election.
I voted against the measure twice Ė the first time when the bill was considered in the House and again last week, when the bill was returned by the Senate on concurrence. Why did I vote against it? Simply stated, this is a solution looking for a problem. At the very least it will create longer lines at the polls and at the worst, it will mean that many lawfully registered voters wonít be able to cast a vote just because they havenít updated their identification or forgot to bring it with them.
Voting is a fundamental constitutional right and no individual should have this ability limited or diminished.
This new law is unnecessary, expensive and fiscally irresponsible. It will most greatly discriminate against the working poor, people of color, senior citizens, individuals with disabilities and young people. Check your wallets, do you have a valid and appropriate photo identification? For many of us, the answer is yes if you drive a car, but what about those who donít drive a car or have cause for government-issued photo identification? How about the newlywed who hasnít changed her name on her driverís license? One estimate holds that 11 percent of Americans do not have a state- or federal-government-issued identification. That is more than 21 million American citizens who potentially would be turned away from the polls. For many of these people, the reason may be that they simply canít afford a license or passport, or have no use for one.
Of course the new law requires Pennsylvania to step up to the plate and provide free identification, which will cost Pennsylvania taxpayers an estimated $4.3 million (although some estimates say it will cost more in the ballpark of $11 million). This comes at a time when the governor has said we need to cut spending for education and other critical health and safety programs, because we donít have the revenue. And, if you vote using absentee ballots, you better be prepared to list your driverís license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number on the ballot that you are about to drop in the mail.
All of this is for alleged voter fraud, which presenting photo identification when you vote doesnít eliminate. The only thing that this will prevent is voter impersonation and Pennsylvania already has ample safeguards in place to protect against that. Impersonating a voter is a felony offense and all first-time voters already are required to show identification to vote.
We are so fortunate to live in a democratic society, which vests the power in the people. Making it more difficult to vote jeopardizes the freedom and power of our democratic government. I am hopeful that the court challenges that are being filed in Pennsylvania (as they are being filed in the other states that have adopted similar measures) will be successful and that not one eligible voter will be turned away from the polls this year.
State Rep. Peter J. Daley II
49th Legislative District