Republicans are playing dirty.
I was disgusted when Pennsylvania (and a few other states) passed a voter-ID law making it a requirement to show a government issued photo ID in order to be able to vote in the upcoming Presidential election. While the Republicans - who led by Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett, a man who also has a clear agenda of financially crippling public education as a means of pushing for privatization - have claimed this was a means of fighting voter fraud (in which there is zero evidence that this a problem, particularly in PA), their intentions are clear. They are willing to play dirty in order to limit votes for Democratic candidates.
Simply put, Republicans fear domination at the polls by young people, minorities, and poorer citizens and are willing to sink to Reconstruction-era type voting laws (think poll taxes) as a means of crippling voter turnout for PA citizens who generally lean to the left.
Below is the statistical breakdown of voting eligible adults who do not have valid photo IDs:
- 25% Black
- 20% Asian
- 19% Latino
- 18% 18 to 24 year olds
- 11% of all U.S. adults
- 8% whites
The reasons behind this breakdown are complex, but have been explored time and time again (try here, here, and here, if you’re curious). The reason these statistics favor Republicans is a no-brainer.
Romney could win Pennsylvania and other key election states based solely on these discriminatory voter ID laws.
Seriously, let that sink in for a moment.
Romney could win Pennsylvania based on discriminatory laws. State election officials in PA recently released data stating that more than 758,000 - or 9.2% - of PA’s registered voters do not have the proper voting ID to vote in November (Corbett’s camp had continuously claimed - lied - that the number was as low as 1%). That’s just the currently registered voters.
The crazy thing is that GOP lawmakers in Pennsylvania aren’t even being shy about letting their true intentions be known - that they passed a law that would make it possible for a Republican presidential candidate to win the state for the first time since 1988. PA GOP House Majority Leader Mike Turzai recently said about the passing of the voter ID law while going over a checklist of Republican accomplishments in the state:
“Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: done.”
It’s insane. It’s sickening.
And the majority of Pennsylvanians either don’t know or are just shrugging it off.
The law won’t be repealed or held off before November. So, where should one aim efforts to combat this clear discrimination?
- Educate! Republican lawmakers are banking on young people, minorities, and lower class citizens being ignorant of these changes. First and foremost: this needs to become common knowledge. People need to be educated about this new law: http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/voter/voteridlaw.shtml. Using social media is nice, but that won’t reach everyone: print fliers explaining this in simple terms. Call organizations in neighborhoods that this law will most effect. Get people fired up. It’s up to us.
- Transportation efforts to DMVs need to be amped up. People need to organize. Transportation should and needs to be free and get people there as effortlessly as possible. Fees for the ID can be waived by filling out a certain form at the DMV, but people have to have a way to get there first and foremost.
- Get your ass out there to vote. While I’m focusing on PA, this isn’t just PA. Wherever you are in the U.S., you need to vote. Vote for whoever you want, but vote. And don’t just vote in the Presidential elections. Vote every election. Young people, poor people, and minorities are far less likely to vote in other elections and that’s how abusers of power like Tom Corbett get elected. Stay informed as much a possible. Read. Keep people like this out of power.
I’m going to use Erie, Pennsylvania as an example, because that’s where I live and it’s a city that I love. In the past year, the DMV in Erie, Pennsylvania moved. Before, it was located near the heart of the city’s primarily black population at the Eastway Plaza in Harborcreek - within walking distance of the primarily black community as well as a prominent Housing Authority in Erie. Now, the DMV resides in suburban Millcreek, seven miles outside of the heart of the East side. The new DMV is open from 8:30 AM to 4:15 PM - most people’s working hours. It’s pretty easy to figure out how difficult this might be to get to for someone who works full-time and does not have their own transportation. Or, more importantly, someone who doesn’t even know that they need the ID this election.
It’s not going to be easy - and that’s what Corbett and other Republican lawmakers had hoped.
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5