Saturday, December 24, 2011

2011 in Review: Protect the Vote

When the calendar turns over on January 1, the struggle to stop voter suppression via ID will continue.  House Bill 934 has passed the Pennsylvania House, has passed the Senate State Government Committee (barely), and now sits in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Following the trend around the country, HB 934 creates obstacles to the franchise by mandating all voters at all elections to show one of a narrow list of acceptable ID. That list consists of a current, photo ID issued by the commonwealth or by the federal government; an ID from an accredited college or university; a senior care center ID; or a PA driver's license that has expired within the last year.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania opposes HB 934 because it will inevitably prohibit some U.S. citizens from voting. Research shows that as much as 12 percent of citizens do not have current government-issued ID. Do the math, and that's nearly one million eligible voters in Pennsylvania. When those numbers are broken down to look at demographics, those without ID are disproportionately the elderly, minorities, and people living in poverty.  We also expect adverse impact on people with disabilities and people who were recently released from prison.

Meanwhile, one of the Senate supporters of the bill has admitted that he's seen no evidence of the type of voter fraud that ID would prevent.

Once again, the ACLU of Pennsylvania is working in coalition, this time with nearly 40 organizations in Protect Our Vote. This coalition has been doing the strategic work required to stop this bill, and we're getting a lot of great feedback at the state capitol.

The struggle continues, and we need to defeat this bill to protect the vote for everyone. The first few weeks of January will be critical. The Senate returns on January 17, and one Senate supporter has said that this should be done by early February to be ready for the primary in April.

The ACLU works on many important issues, and I would never want to rank any of them by importance. They all matter to someone or everyone. But there are few rights more fundamental to the health of our democracy than the right to vote. It must be vigorously protected. Your support gives us the ability to organize and lobby against this voter suppression tactic. Please consider making a year-end donation to the ACLU of Pennsylvania today because freedom can't protect itself.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article. A relevant link here, but please check out the effort in Virginia to stop the voter photo ID bills there similar to Pennsylvania's. "Like" it on Facebook!

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