Instances of voter fraud may be rarer than lightning strikes, but in Pennsylvania more than 758,000 voters may be disenfranchised this election season because lawmakers insist on solving the “problem” of voter fraud. Pennslyvania’s new voter ID law, which will take effect for the first time this November, may prevent 758,939 otherwise eligible voters, who do not currently have an acceptable ID, from voting.
A comparison, carried out by state officials, of registered voters and PennDOT ID databases show that only 91 percent of Pennsylvania’s 8.2 million voters have an acceptable voter ID. In Philadelphia, where voters will be hardest hit by the new law, 18 percent of voters lack proper ID. State officials had previously estimated that 99 percent of voters had acceptable IDs:
“What’s truly scary about this report is that it makes my case,” Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said. “About 10 percent of otherwise eligible Pennsylvanians are disenfranchised by the Voter ID law. That’s not an acceptable number of people to tell that they can’t vote.” Disenfranchised groups, Wagner said, include older residents, students and the poor.
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing to overturn the law, and Allegheny County Democrats said in June they would file a Commonwealth Court challenge.
Voter ID laws shift the electorate to the right by disproportionately disenfranchising poor, minority and student voters. Indeed, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R) openly admitted that this is their purpose last month when he claimed that Voter ID “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
Nor is Voter ID a lone effort to disenfranchise voters. Republican politicians also pushed limits on early voting and registration efforts, and voter purge efforts thatdisproportionately affect voters who are more likely to vote democratic. New voter restrictions are also more likely to disenfranchise older voters.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, more than 5 million Americans could be disenfranchised by new laws making it harder to vote. Of the 12 likely background states, five have cut back on voting rights, and, taken together, the states that have restricted voter rights make up 171, or 63 percent, of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidential election.
We need to update you on where Truthout stands.
To be brutally honest, Truthout is behind on our fundraising goals for the year. There are a lot of reasons why. We’re dealing with broad trends in our industry, trends that have led publications like Vice, BuzzFeed, and National Geographic to make painful cuts. Everyone is feeling the squeeze of inflation. And despite its lasting importance, news readership is declining.
To ensure we stay out of the red by the end of the year, we have a long way to go. Our future is threatened.
We’ve stayed online over two decades thanks to the support of our readers. Because you believe in the power of our work, share our transformative stories, and give to keep us going strong, we know we can make it through this tough moment.
If you value what we do and what we stand for, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our work.