Pennsylvania came under fire in 2012 for enacting legislation requiring voters to present specific state-issued ID cards at the polls. A trial that began today in Harrisburg, PA will decide the fate of the law.
The Pennsylvania law has drawn criticism from voting rights advocates, who see voter ID laws as little more than a way to prevent voting, generally by underrepresented minorities. The law was not enforced in 2012 after the voter ID requirement was deemed too difficult to fulfill for a significant number of people in the lead-up to the election. It has yet to be stricken from the books. This trial could do that — or insure its continued survival.
Voter ID laws are designed to reduce or eliminate voter fraud, which is considered extremely rare. Other motivations for implementing voter ID laws have been alleged, however. In June of 2012, in the lead-up to last year’s general election, PA House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R) publicly cited the voter ID law as the legislation that would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
The outcome of this trial could have a profound effect on who is allowed to vote in a state that is often a key decider in general elections. It could also set a precedent for other states in which similar laws are being proposed. Then, the onus of assuring voting eligibilty will be in the hands of US citizens, and many question whether many would-be voters have the time, patience, and motivation do cut through new layers of red tape in order to cast a vote.