Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Preventing Disenfranchisement — Except Not

Posted by MEC on October 2, 2012

Pennsylvania judge Robert Simpson has issued an injunction against the new law requiring voters to present government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Except, he hasn’t issued an injunction against the entire law, only against enforcing the “language” regarding provisional ballots.

From the ruling: “I will not restrain election officials from asking for photo ID at the polls; rather, I will enjoin enforcement of those parts of Act 18 which directly result in disenfranchisement.” The injunction only delays (until after the November election) enforcement of the provision that voters without ID can only have provisional ballots and must present valid ID within six days or their ballots won’t be counted. There is no requirement, however, to inform voters who don’t have ID that they cannot be denied a regular ballot.

The stated purpose of the injunction is to prevent disenfranchisement, but Judge Simpson painstakingly justified leaving intact the provisions that will deter people from trying to vote. The ruling explicitly rejects the petitioners’ request to enjoin “outreach and education efforts required” by the new law. How many voters will stay home because they’ve been “educated” that they need ID and don’t know that the requirement won’t be enforced? How many elections officials will tell voters, “The law requires you to show ID to get a ballot,” but neglect to explain, “But we can’t enforce it, so you can have a ballot anyway”?

Even if voters without ID know that they can’t be denied a ballot and persuade elections officials to give them a ballot, prevailing over confusion and contradictions this injunction creates will waste time, create conflict, and generally make voting more difficult for all voters, not just voters without the required form of ID.

The injunction is not a victory for voting rights. It does as little as possible to prevent disenfranchisement.

5 Responses to “Preventing Disenfranchisement — Except Not”

  1. Charles II said

    And it only applies to this election. Subsequent elections will still require photo ID, even though the state has no effective means of providing ID.

    Our rulers are totally out of touch with the conditions under which so many of us live.

    • MEC said

      Our rulers are totally out of touch with the conditions under which so many of us live.

      Oh, I think in this case, the rulers are very much in touch with the conditions under which Voters Of A Certain Political Persuasion live. Remember the rejoicing that the law will win Pennsylvania for Romney.

      I’m also remembering that this judge originally refused to issue any injunction at all. The Supreme Court rebuked him and sent the case back to him. I can’t help but suspect he deliberately wrote the injunction so as to have no real effect. Indeed, it makes the situation worse because it adds confusion (and therefore conflict and time-wasting) to the process.

      • Charles II said

        MEC Says, ” Indeed, it makes the situation worse because it adds confusion (and therefore conflict and time-wasting) to the process.”

        Rachel pointed out that the state is still running a “voter education” ad that says you have to have photo ID. So, yes, confusion can work almost as well as a law.

        B—–ds.

      • MEC said

        Rachel pointed out that the state is still running a “voter education” ad that says you have to have photo ID. So, yes, confusion can work almost as well as a law.

        Yes, the ruling explicitly stated that the state could still “educate” voters about the law that can’t be enforced. Discouraging voters from even going to the polls is almost as effective as denying them ballots once they get there — “almost” because the time it takes to sort through whether a voter can have a ballot makes the voters behind them in line wait longer, and at least some of them will have to leave without voting (because they have to be at work, their kids will be home from school, etc.).

  2. Reminds me: http://www.bluestemprairie.com/bluestemprairie/2012/10/greater-mn-letter-writers-keep-up-the-heat-on-voter-restriction-amendment-in-local-papers.html

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