A Pennsylvania judge refused to halt enforcement of a new state law making it more difficult for many people to vote in the upcoming Nov. 6 election. The law requiring voters to show photo identification unfairly targets minorities, poor people, senior citizens and students. They're least likely to have driver licenses -- and most likely to vote Democratic.
After the Pennsylvania legislature approved the bill along party lines, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett signed it into law in March. The GOP claims to be fighting "vote fraud," but that's a pretense. The real goal is to hinder Democratic votes -- which is a different type of vote fraud.
The League of Women Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Homeless Advocacy Project appealed the Pennsylvania decision to the state's supreme court.
Pennsylvania is one of 37 states that has passed, or considered passing, tougher voter ID laws. But those laws could end up disenfranchising millions of voters.
Garrett Epps, a former Washington Post reporter who now teaches constitutional law at the University of Baltimore, wrote an Atlantic Monthly rebuke saying the Pennsylvania law "could disenfranchise 9 percent of the state's population," He said it "belittles" the cornerstone of American democracy, voting.
David Schultz, professor of public policy at the Hamline University School of Business in St. Paul, Minn., said: "Voter fraud at the polls is an insignificant aspect of American elections. There is absolutely no evidence that voter impersonation fraud has affected the outcome of any election in the United States, at least any recent election."
News21, a national reporting project at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, published a study entitled, "Comprehensive Database of U.S. Voter Fraud Uncovered No Evidence That Photo ID is Needed."
"While fraud has occurred, the rate is infinitesimal," the study found. "In-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which promoted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tougher voter ID laws, is virtually non-existent."
The study identified 10 cases of voter impersonation -- about one of every 15 million prospective voters.
"There is more fraud in absentee ballots and voter registration than any other categories," the study noted. "The analysis shows 491 cases of absentee ballot fraud and 400 cases of registration fraud. A required photo ID at the polls would not have prevented these cases."
The Pennsylvania Departments of State and Transportation estimate as many as 758,000 people, about 9 percent of the state's 8.2 million voters, do not have photo identifications required under the new law.
"Even if 90 percent of those voters got the correct identification by Nov. 6, that still could leave 75,800 voters disenfranchised," News21 stated.
These new laws spark memories of Jim Crow days when millions of African-Americans were prevented from going to the polls before Congress passed the 1964 Voting Rights Act.Hopefully, rational thinking -- based on real facts -- will prevail before Nov 6.