Inquirer Editorial: Need more protections against voter fraud

Posted: October 10, 2011

By Carol Aichele

Voting is among our most basic and precious rights. We fought a revolution for it, and for more than two centuries, Americans have died protecting this cornerstone of our representative democracy.

African Americans gained this right only after a civil war. Full enfranchisement took another century and the Voting Rights Act. Women struggled long and hard until they won suffrage in 1920.

We must safeguard this right for those who are legally entitled to vote, and uphold the longstanding principle of one person, one vote. This is why the Corbett administration supports requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot: to deter fraud and make sure every person's vote has the weight it deserves in deciding elections.

Today, photo IDs are required to board an airplane, cash a check, or buy allergy medicine over the counter. Voting is more important than these activities. Voters understand this. A recent Rasmussen poll found 75 percent of likely U.S. voters back requiring photo IDs at the polls.

Refuting opponents' arguments, the Universities of Delaware and Nebraska found voter ID laws had no effect on turnout in federal elections from 2000 to 2006, including across racial, ethnic, and socio-economic lines.

After Georgia's law, among the nation's strictest, took effect in 2008, there was a record turnout in the presidential primary. In the 2008 general election, Georgia had its largest turnout ever. The African American vote increased 5 percent.

A Pennsylvania Department of State analysis shows 99 percent of eligible voters currently have acceptable photo IDs, and proposals under discussion will likely expand the list of photo IDs that can be used. PennDot will supply a free ID for those who need one, so the greatest possible cost to taxpayers is slightly more than $1 million, a small price to ensure the validity of each vote.

Some argue this is a solution without a problem, but in 2009, an FBI investigation led to forgery and election-fraud charges against seven Pittsburgh-area ACORN workers; in 2008, a Philadelphia official submitted more than 8,000 fraudulent ACORN-collected voter-registration forms.

The Corbett administration also supports ID measures for absentee ballots. We need only look back to a 1994 state Senate election in Philadelphia, when absentee-voter fraud was so massive that a federal judge actually overturned the results and awarded the seat to the losing candidate.

Sadly, voter fraud has occurred in Pennsylvania. We should not wait for it to happen again. Voter ID will assuredly help detect and deter this fraud, safeguarding our state's election process.


Contact Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele at RA-VoterID@pa.gov.

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