Pennsylvania officials put the initial estimate of how many Pennsylvanians currently do not carry eligible ID for voting under a new law at 1% of the electorate, a manageable situation. A subsequent analysis expanded that to 9%, around 750,000 voters. A different analysis this week doubled that, and added that 43% of all voters in Philadelphia would be affected. Now we have a more formal answer to the question, courtesy of the court battle taking place over the law. An expert testified yesterday that 1 million voters would be ineligible if they did not secure the proper ID.
In court Thursday, a University of Washington political scientist with extensive background in polling testified that his survey found that more than one million registered voters, or 12.7 percent, lacked valid identification to vote.
Matt A. Barreto, who conducted the survey for the civil-liberties groups challenging the law in court, testified that the number jumps even higher when the pool is extended to include all eligible voters in Pennsylvania. Under that scenario, 1.36 million residents, or 14.4 percent, lack a valid ID, he said.
Asked if it was possible for state officials to ensure that all registered voters who went to the polls would be able to vote in the Nov. 6 presidential election, Barreto said: “I think that it would be almost impossible for anyone to give that assurance.”
Outside the courthouse, local elections officials were already rebelling against this voter suppression threat. The inspector of elections in Colwyn, in Delaware County (near Philadelphia), vowed not to enforce the voter ID law, saying that “to ask me to enforce something that violates civil rights is ludicrous and absolutely something I am not willing to do.” Colwyn is a small borough, however, and I don’t expect many other elections officials to follow suit. However, even Republican elections officials have expressed discomfort:
The talk isn’t all from Democrats. In Radnor Township, Jane Golas, a Republican inspector of elections, said she wondered how she could ask anyone for identification when she will have to count ballots of absentee voters who are not held to the same standards.
“This is a move by people to suppress the vote in the city of Philadelphia,” Golas said. “We never had an issue with people coming in to fraudulently vote.”
That’s a pretty bold, straightforward response. It’s also perfectly correct. It’s what Tom Corbett requested during his 2010 election, asking the GOP to “keep down” the vote in Philadelphia. I don’t know what he specifically had in mind then, but as Governor he found a way to systematically keep that vote down. Corbett, when asked yesterday, couldn’t explain what forms of voter ID would be acceptable under the law.
In fact, even if you have valid ID, if the address on a driver’s license doesn’t match your current address, you could encounter problems at the polls. Therefore, even voters with valid ID would have to change their address on their driver’s license to become eligible to vote at the polls. I know I never have changed my driver’s license, even if the address was off, until it expires. I’m sure most people do it that way.
The anger and frustration that will ensue at the polls in Pennsylvania, and across the country, if this law gets sprung on them on Election Day will be incalculable.