Pennsylvanians must revisit voter ID laws
Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Monday that the Department of Justice was suing North Carolina over the state’s controversial new voting law. The amendments covered in this voting law will require all voters to present photo ID in 2016, eliminate same-day registration during early voting, and reduce the early voting period from 17 days to 10, among other changes, according to Time magazine. The Department of Justice is focusing specifically on the requirement of photo ID, as they claim that the law offers no protection for voters who do not have identification and would affect minority voters the most, according to CNN. North Carolina lawmakers argue that this law will prevent voter fraud, but critics point out that voter fraud is not a major problem in the United States.
Although there are no major elections in the near future, similar Pennsylvania laws passed last year must be revisited to allow those who may be barred by the laws to vote.
Pennsylvania lawmakers enacted a voter ID law just before the presidential election of 2012. According to NPR, many critics of the law in Pennsylania, including John Jordan of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, argued that the law had the potential to seriously limit the voting access of veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, and minorities. In October 2012, a Pennsylvania judge served an injunction that prevented the photo ID law from affecting the presidential election. However, the law was not completely thrown out, and therefore has the potential to affect a wide range of future elections in Pennsylvania. Over the past two years, voter ID laws have been struck down in Texas, Wisconsin, and South Carolina, according to The New York Times.
These laws have the potential to seriously affect elections nationwide, both on the national and local level. Most voter ID laws are pushed by Republican-dominated legislatures, but tend to affect minorities likely to vote for Democrats.
Pennsylvania’s voter ID law needs to be revisited sooner rather than later, to ensure that all U.S. citizens have equal ability to exercise their right to vote.