Pa. Voter ID Aids Electoral Process

Lancaster New Era

State lawmakers are taking another stab at legislation requiring government-issued photo identification at the ballot box. A previous measure was vetoed by then-Gov. Ed Rendell in 2006.

The requirement, aimed at preventing voter fraud, made sense back then, and it makes sense today.

A voter ID would prevent a person from registering under a false name or with a false registration form. It also would prevent voting by illegal immigrants and those who are registered to vote in more than one state.

The concern is not so much with Lancaster County polling places, many of which are in small population or rural areas &tstr; where everybody knows your name. It’s with large metropolitan areas, where the likelihood of a mix-up or outright fraud is high.

The legislation’s chief sponsor in the state House, Rep. Daryl Metcalf (R-Butler), says a voter ID would join a long list of daily activities for which some form of identification is required.

“You have to have a driver’s license to utilize your vehicle or to get a library card. Would (opponents of the bill) be in favor of letting people hunt without having to show identification to get a hunting license?” he said.

Photo IDs also are needed to purchase property, get a job, open a bank account, take a college course and board a plane.

Opponents of the proposal &tstr; Democrats, for the most part &tstr; say the measure is intended to suppress Democratic turnout and disenfranchise urban voters, college students and senior citizens.

Opponents say the measure is unneeded, citing the relatively few instances of voter misrepresentation that have been uncovered.

But we’re not that far removed from the 2000 presidential election debacle in Florida, where “hanging chads” and voter fraud were rampant. Who is to say such a spectacle couldn’t happen in Pennsylvania?

Democrats say state-issued voter IDs would cost the state “millions” of dollars. Our estimate would be much lower, since not every voter would need one.

But do Democrats not think the state’s electoral process is worth protecting?

Currently, Pennsylvania voters have to prove their identity the first time they go to a polling place, then they sign a voter roll for each subsequent trip.

The proposal making its way through the Legislature would require voters to show a driver’s license or other form of state or federal ID every time they go to the polls.

And if a voter doesn’t have a driver’s license or some other form of ID, the state will provide one &tstr; free of charge &tstr; according to the proposal.

The legislation is modeled on a 2005 Indiana bill, which was challenged in court but upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 14 state legislatures are considering new voter ID requirements, and eight of the 27 states that already require identification are considering changing their laws to require IDs to include photos.

A one-size-fits-all, state-issued photo ID would be a valuable tool for election officials and poll workers responsible for seeing to it that elections go smoothly.

At the same time, a state ID would help assure responsible Pennsylvanians that their votes aren’t being canceled out by people using false identities to cast ballots.

The state Legislature should pass the voter ID legislation, and Gov. Tom Corbett should sign it.