On the EDge: GOP voter ID plot fails

Image by Brett Barrett, St. George News

OPINION – Four years ago, after the president defeated John McCain, Republican leaders across the nation got the idea that if they made it more difficult for people to vote by requiring them to show a photo ID card before casting their ballots, things would turn around this election.

A dozen states implemented tougher voter laws since Barack Obama was elected. It’s not playing well in the courts or the court of public opinion.

This week, a Commonwealth Judge postponed implementation of legislation that would have required Pennsylvania voters to show a photo ID card before entering the voting booth. A similar Mississippi law was also put on hold while federal officials determine if it violates terms of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“I am still not convinced … that there will be no voter disenfranchisement” if the law took effect immediately, a Pennsylvania judge wrote in issuing his decision.

Neither am I.

The reality is that we should be doing all we can to make voting easier, not more difficult, and photo ID verification is not the way to bridge that. I’d rather rock the vote than suppress it. We have voter ID requirements here in Utah, too, but it hardly matters because of the overwhelming Republican majority.

Opponents of the Pennsylvania law claimed that young adults, minorities, the elderly, poor, and disabled would find it more difficult to cast ballots, according to an Associated Press report. The court case was pushed by groups including the Homeless Advocacy Project, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, AARP, and the Pennsylvania chapter of the NAACP. They, rightfully so, charge that obtaining an official state identification card can often be difficult, particularly when they are issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. In most states it can take hours to move through the long lines.

To obtain an ID card in Pennsylvania, you must show a U.S. birth certificate with a raised seal, certificate of U.S. citizenship, certificate of naturalization, or a U.S. passport to prove citizenship. To prove residency, you must show two of the following: tax records, mortgage documents, a lease agreement, W-2 form, current weapons permit, or current utility bill to prove residency.

You must also fill out an “Application for Pennsylvania Photo Identification Card” and hand over $13.50 before you smile for the camera.

States where voter ID laws have been successfully challenged include Texas and Wisconsin. A South Carolina law is also under review.

This all dates back, of course, to the post-Civil War era and the influx of Jim Crow laws designed to segregate African-Americans. It took about 100 years for those laws, which ranged from educational to voting issues, to be repealed, trumped by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Now, however, we are stepping backwards as the GOP has looked for an unreasonable advantage this election.

This has been a desperate measure taken by a desperate party that looks like it will lose this election by about the same Electoral College margin as it lost the last one, which is why I look for Republican leaders to push for even more extreme voter restrictions after Democrats escort Mitt Romney to the door in a couple of weeks.

During the nation’s formative years, only white, male, adult property owners were allowed to vote. There were religious prerequisites until 1810.

There were literacy tests, poll taxes were initiated. It wasn’t until 1944 that “white primaries” were eliminated. In 1972 the Supreme Court ruled that lengthy residency requirements were unconstitutional, that 30 days was long enough to qualify to vote in a state or federal election.

There’s a twist of irony attached to all of this in light of a story published Tuesday in the Houston Chronicle that a veteran Republican consultant is under investigation for registering dead people to vote in Florida. I wonder how they arranged voter ID cards for those dead folks. The same consultant, Nathan Sproul, has also done work for the Romney campaign, according to a Salon report.

Nonetheless, the Republican Party is deep into investigating voter rolls in Colorado, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Iowa. What are they uncovering? Hardly a thing. An investigation of Florida voter lists — before Sproul’s efforts to register dead people — was initiated when the GOP claimed that as many as 180,000 voters were not legal citizens. It turns out that only 207 were not eligible to vote, hardly enough to sway a municipal election.

A scrubbing of North Carolina’s books reveals that there were only about a dozen instances where a noncitizen had voted.

In Colorado, more than 11,000 people were suspected of voting illegally as noncitizens. The actual number, however, turned out to be 141.

So, as the numbers rolled in, the GOP had to look elsewhere to try to control the outcome of this election, which is why voter ID laws were passed in, mostly, key battleground states. At least that’s what some politicians have said.

When the measure passed in June, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai boasted: “Voter ID…is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

A recent poll, however, pegged the president’s lead in Pennsylvania at 12 percent.

So much for trying to rig the ballot box.

No bad days!

From the Editor – the following resources are offered to assist Utah residents in voting:

Attachment:  Utah Voter ID: Acceptable forms of ID; right to cast provisional ballot if ID is challenged 

Related post: Utah Lt. Governor’s voter education and outreach

Utah voter registration upcoming deadlines:

  • Deadline to register to vote by-mail: Oct. 9
  • Deadline to register in person or online: Oct. 22


Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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  • DoubleTap October 4, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Please help me out STGNews….who wrote this article, Joyce K. or Ed K.?

    All good days…

    • Joyce Kuzmanic October 4, 2012 at 8:52 am

      Oh! It was Ed Kociela – his opinion. Thank you Double Tap – it is fixed.

  • Alvin October 4, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Well, if we can’t make people prove who they are to vote, what should we do? Do we revert to dipping our finger in purple ink to prove we only voted once? Then if they want to vote twice they lose a finger so they can re-dip a different one in the ink. After a couple of elections that problem will work it’s self out. (run out of fingers I guess) Voter fraud has been happening the last few elections and people are just trying to solve that problem. Making people show ID to vote is not that big of a deal. Those who fight this notion must be supporting voter fraud.

  • DoubleTap October 4, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Thanks STGNews. I knew it sounded like Ed.

  • B Robins October 4, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Let me get this straight. Ed Cociela lives in San Jose Del Cabo Mexico. What would happen if Ed decided to participate in the Baja Del Sur Provincial, or Mexican National elections? I can see it now…..Ed Walks in to the Election Center to cast his vote, the official asks “nombre por favor?”, Ed responds “Juan De La Fuente Pilar Rodriguez”. Mexican Official takes one look at the Hippy in front of him and calls the policia federal.

    This same scenario plays out all the time in the United States. The only difference is that the election officials are helpless to prevent voter fraud. Juan De La Fuente Pilar Rodriguez can walk into a Washington County Poll Location, proclaim “my name is Ed Codeila” cast his illigitimat vote and walk away without any fear of being caught.

    “What a Country!”

  • Chris October 4, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Hell, if we’re not going to require people to prove who they are, and that they have in fact only voted once, than why not just hand out voter registration cards at the borders to make it easier for the illegals to vote? Asking people to prove that they are
    here legally and are in fact a registered voter is not asking anyone to do anything too hard its kind of like asking a male citizen to register with selective service (its the law)

  • Tyler October 4, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    I have to say that I am against early voting. We have the technology to have all votes in on one day and counted within the next day or two. For example, say I voted for Romney last week, but then after watching all these latest debates still to come and being fed new information, I change my mind and want Obama?
    Also, it creates bias in my opinion, with hype of the candidates being updated day to day with who’s in the lead and who’s not. This just makes it more of a game of competition.
    Look at lastnight’s debate, Romney was going back on all he previously said…basically lying to look good at the last minute. But little does he know, he screwed himself. A good theory I heard today was Obama is being smart, why would he unleash all the rebuttals and beef on Romney all in the first debate? He’s gonna save the big ticket items and best for last.
    Romney is all out of ‘fuel’ now. What is he gonna have to fight with in the next 2 debates?! NADA! Like Obama said, he can’t even explain HOW he’s going to accomplish his plans as a president!

  • David October 4, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    stgnews… your guest writer is horrible! No, seriously. Does the writer of this opinion piece know that you had to show Identification (yes, IDENTIFICATION) to even attend the Democratic National Convention this year?! Yet the Dems are the same party that are against voter Identification. Hypocrisy anyone? It’s hard to believe that Ed has won “numerous awards” for his writing. Could he be any more of a left-winger? Some objectivity in professional writing doesn’t hurt–yes, even for an opinion article.

    • 435instigator October 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      He’s only “horrible” because you’re a right-winger assumingly…so predictable.

      • David October 5, 2012 at 10:19 am

        Not a “right-winger” as you assume. I’m an Independent voter and a citizen of the United State of America. As a citizen, I have the right to vote. I don’t see the problem with requiring people to present identification to prove that they are a citizen of the U.S., and therefore have the RIGHT to vote. If voter fraud is 10,000 or 100, it is still FRAUD.

      • David October 5, 2012 at 10:26 am

        … and this article is horrible because of the hypocracy that continually spews from far left. Requiring people to show identification to attend the Democratic National Convention (not an election), but then complaining at the idea of requiring ID to vote for the President of the United States, is hypocrisy at it’s finest. If you can’t see that, then there’s no reason to continue the discussion. Typical democrat…’I like you, if you agree with me’… predictable, indeed.

  • Big Bob October 4, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Obama won by a long shot. Just watch his next debates…He’s gonna have Romney by the nutz!

    • David October 5, 2012 at 10:31 am

      Either you are being immensely sarcastic or just plain uninformed, as most national pundits and polls indicate that Pres. Obama got his butt kicked in the debate. Obama was NOT on his game. That happens though when you don’t have a tele-prompter aiding you throughout the speach.

  • 435Instigator October 4, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Just take away the “right” to vote from the People. Afterall, voting is just an illusion anyway, to make it seem as if We the People have a choice. All the presidents ‘elected’ after JFK are puppets. JFK was the last real thing and look what happened to him…

  • Karen October 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    The voter id laws were passed by Republican legislatures. The laws are a solution in search of a problem. Time after time, it has been shown that there really is no voter fraud as feared by these Republicans. Ed Kociela gave a good account of all of the false accusations that have been promoted by Faux News. Public opinion and the courts are sending these crazy laws to the trash can.

  • Dsull October 6, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Ed, I would have felt better about this article if you would have explained to me 2 things. 1: The difference between having to have identification: Bank, Work, Driving, Flying etc, and being able to vote.
    For people to say low income people don’t have ID’s, how are they getting government assistance?
    -To use the EBT for food stamps ID is required.
    -To use Medicaid benefits ID is required.
    -To apply for Section 8 Housing, ID is required.
    To be able to do anything in my name, I have to show ID. Yet to vote, it’s ok to not have ID. I don’t want anyone to not be able to vote, and if needs be that those on assistance get the ID for Free, I’m all for that.
    I also like how the only scandal you quoted was a republican scandal and none of the democratic party scandals were shown. Both parties are horrible and they all need to be ousted. Pandering for one or the other is showing a lack of insight.

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