Voting on Your Own Recognizance
The United Methodist Church’s Women’s Division is so much in tune with the political goals of the Democratic Party that it really should be subsidized by the Democrats’ national committee. With the party’s leadership in full-throated hysteria over the supposedly suppressive effects of voter ID laws, United Methodist Women has decided to pitch in:
United Methodist Women (UMW) is concerned about Pennsylvania and other states seeking to disenfranchise many voters by a new law that requires an identification card.
In the United States, we have a history of struggling over who has the right to vote. Victories in the past have been won through intense mobilization. Yet today we are seeing a new push to disenfranchise many people through state laws that create multiple hurdles for registering and voting, as well as challenges to the Voting Rights Act itself!
In a UMW Action Alert “Suppression of Voting Rights: A Threat to Democracy,” we are alerted: “A new surge of state voter ID laws disproportionately impacts seniors, students and peoples of color. About 11% of eligible Americans (21 million) do not have state-issued photo IDs, including 15% of low income voters, 18 % of young eligible voters, 18% of seniors and 25% of African Americans, according to The Nation. Thirteen million adults do not have access to proof of citizenship, which will hinder their efforts to obtain a photo ID.”
This is, to put it bluntly, dishonest nonsense in the service of voter fraud. First, let’s look at what the Pennsylvania law says when you strip away the propaganda:
People without a valid form of photo identification that allows them to vote may get one at no cost.
Pennsylvania’s new voter law that will be enforced in the Nov. 6 election requires people to have valid photo IDs.
The law also requires the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to provide photo ID cards at no cost.
State Rep. Chris Sainato said that for people to get a free identification card, they need to tell PennDOT that they want it so they can vote.
Otherwise, PennDOT will charge $13.50 for the card, he said.
Voters who don’t have an acceptable photo ID when they arrive at the polls may still vote by provisional ballot. For the vote to be counted, the voter must provide one of the following to the county board of elections—either by mail, email, fax or in person—within six days of the election:
A signed affirmation stating that the voter is the same person who appeared at the polling place and cast the provisional ballot, and that he or she is indigent and cannot obtain the ID without the payment of a fee.
Or, if that doesn’t apply, the voter must provide a copy of an acceptable form of ID and a signed affirmation that he or she is the same person who cast the provisional ballot.
Also, the name on an acceptable ID must be substantially similar to the voter’s name on the voter registration rolls.
In other words, Pennsylvania is bending over backwards to prevent people being kept from voting, while still trying to reduce the incidence of election fraud (always a problem in Philadelphia). But the
party hacks UMW are apparently opposed to anyone having to prove they are who they claim to be when exercising one of the most important of all freedoms (as opposed, say, to getting on an airplane, or entering the U.S. Justice Department, or cashing a check, or any of a thousand other things one needs ID for in this society).
Now, let’s take a look at those numbers. They come from the Brennan Center at the NYU School of Law. They are not actual numbers, but extrapolations from surveys of questionable validity. According to Hans von Spakovsky:
The Brennan Center study suffers from sloppy—or perhaps purposefully misrepresented—data collection and biased questions. Based entirely on one survey of only 987 “voting age American citizens,” the report contains no information on how the survey determined whether a respondent was actually an American citizen. The survey could have included illegal and legal aliens, two categories of individuals that are not allowed to vote.
The survey then uses the responses of these 987 individuals to estimate the number of Americans without valid documentation based on the 2000 Census calculations of citizen voting-age population. The Census figures, however, contain millions of U.S. residents who are ineligible to vote, thus contributing to the study’s overestimation of voters without a government-issued identification.
Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Election Commission, has much more on this subject, but you get the point. He demonstrates elsewhere that voter ID doesn’t suppress turnout, but in fact that turnout has increased in many jurisdictions where ID is in place, such as Indiana. There are a variety of reasons for that, but the point is that the hysteria of the UMW is utterly specious, and based, I suspect, more on the desire to obtain an illicit advantage for the Women’s Division’s preferred political party than any genuine concern about ballot access.
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