Wednesday, December 14, 2005

HB 1318 now disenfranchises less people

Yesterday the PA Senate's State Government Committee amended HB 1318 in positive ways. First, the committee removed the provision that would take away voting rights from ex-felons. Second, the committee increased the types of ID that could be used at the polls to include non-photo IDs like a utility bill or bank statement because everyone carries their utility bills and bank statements to the polls.

The following is from ACLU-PA legislative director Larry Frankel:
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While the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania appreciates the improvements that have been made to HB 1318, we believe that further changes should be made so that the legislation will not interfere with the voting rights of thousands of Pennsylvanians who come to the polls on Election Day...

The amendment also changed the identification requirements. No longer will photo identification be required from every voter. However, every voter will be required to show some form of identification and some of the types of identification listed in the bill are not ones that some people have or can easily obtain. This identification requirement will cause delays and longer lines on Election Day. It will also create more work for Election Day workers.

Interestingly, this bill still does not impose identification requirements on people who vote by absentee ballot. Thus, the bill makes it more difficult to vote in person than to vote by absentee ballot.

The sections of the bill concerning provisional ballots were not changed by the amendment. Thus, the bill makes it harder to have a provisional ballot counted. The bill says that if a voter does not have one of the necessary forms of identification, the voter is to vote a provisional ballot. However, if that provisional ballot is challenged, the voter will have to present identification to the county board of elections in order to have the provisional ballot counted. This means that a voter who does not have identification with him/her on Election Day will have to get the necessary identification and travel to the county board of elections in order to have his/her vote counted.

Furthermore, thanks to the identification provisions, the bill will also lead to the casting of many more provisional ballots. Thus, we can expect to see even more problems associated with the failure to print a sufficient number of provisional ballots and the loss of the right to vote for people who come to the polls after all of the provisional ballots have been used.

In closing, let there be no doubt - this bill still makes it harder for thousands of Pennsylvanians to vote.
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And I like this from Lou's List:
(I)t ignores (the) fact that the most pervasive type of fraud perpetrated in recent elections has been discouraging eligible voters from voting, not ineligible voters casting ballots.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Graham Douglas said...

As a non-USAian observer, I find blogs like this provide a fascinating insight into how other societies function. The goings-on at the Dover trial were very interesting - I'm just happy that the fundy fringe in the UK don't have that sort of clout (yet).

One thing, though. I'm sorry, I tried to resist pointing this out, but it's a bug bear of mine: it's "disenfranchises _fewer_ people".

4:27 AM  
Anonymous jw said...

"In closing, let there be no doubt - this bill still makes it harder for thousands of Pennsylvanians to vote."

Good.

It should be harder to vote. At least, harder for the people who shouldn't be voting, like noncitizens and individuals who have forfeited their position in society by breaking major laws.

For the rest of us, if the example of the Iraqi people doesn't shame us into exercising our right to vote, in every election, then we deserve whatever government we get.

As for requiring photo ID, I find it disgusting that the government currently does less to protect the polls against voter fraud than my local video store does to protect its stock of DVDs against theft.

8:48 AM  

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