Randy Cornman’s March 12 letter (“Like gun rights, voter ID makes sense”) raises an important issue that I would like to respond to.
Mr. Cornman and I share an important point of agreement in our opposition to voter fraud. Where I disagree with him is on the matters of whether voter impersonation fraud (the only major type of fraud addressed by the voter ID laws) is frequent enough to warrant voter ID laws and whether such laws are an appropriate solution.
The major objection I have to Mr. Cornman’s letter is his treatment of Judge McGinley’s rejection of the Pennsylvania voter ID law. The opinion — freely available online — consists of 103 pages of testimony, references and conclusions that I think make a very strong case against the law.
According to the opinion, the state offered no evidence that impersonation fraud is even a problem in Pennsylvania, while experts for petitioners confirmed the rarity of voter impersonation and the restrictive effects of the law (for example, the difficulty for some in obtaining acceptable ID).
Mr. Cornman contended that it is not difficult to obtain an acceptable ID, but the facts presented in the opinion raise serious questions as to whether this is the case. In my view, even if one disagrees with the facts suggested by the opinion, McGinley’s argument is owed much more consideration than “a blatantly politically partisan, totally illogical decision.” McGinley’s argument would be “illogical” if he had no good reasons supporting his conclusion, but by my reading, he had plenty. If one wants to wrestle with his argument, it should at least be presented fairly.
Furthermore, there was a particularly notorious statement in the 2012 elections that calls the true motivations of the law into question.
State Rep. Mike Turzai was quoted as saying that voter ID “is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” Google “Mike Turzai voter ID” to see and hear for yourself; videos of the statement are widespread. To me, Turzai’s comment suggests a partisan motivation for the bill.
In my opinion, the restrictions of voter ID laws tend to sacrifice the voting ability of many qualified voters, to solve a narrow problem that is virtually nonexistent. By the laws’ natures, they tend to chiefly affect people of certain political leanings, and Turzai’s comment is further suggestive that partisan motivations are at work. Hence, I agree with Judge McGinley’s decision to strike the bill down.