Voter-ID resistance runs amok

A rally against the voter-ID law in Harrisburg last month. Some local officials are saying they will defy the measure.
A rally against the voter-ID law in Harrisburg last month. Some local officials are saying they will defy the measure. (ED HILLE / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 23, 2012

By Dom Giordano

What supporter of voter identification said the following in 2005?

"Some critics of voter IDs think the government cannot do this job, but Mexico and most poor countries in the world have been able to register and give IDs to almost all their citizens. Surely the United States can do it, too. Free photo IDs would also empower minorities, who are often charged exorbitant fees for cashing checks because they lack proper identification."

Was it Gov. Corbett? One of the Koch brothers? Karl Rove?

No, it was former President Jimmy Carter, summarizing some of his findings as co-chairman of the Commission on Federal Election Reform.

Carter's statements put him among the 74 percent of Americans who support requirements that voters produce photo ID, according to a recent Washington Post poll. The poll found voter ID is favored by 86 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of independents, and 60 percent of Democrats, as well as 65 percent of African Americans and 64 percent of Hispanics. In fact, self-described liberal Democrats were the only group expressing less than majority support for voter ID - and 48 percent of them backed it.

Recently, on my radio show, I suggested to Philadelphia Councilman Bill Green that common sense is driving this broad support for voter ID. He replied, "Most people get their news from radio and television and have not looked at the issue from a constitutional-rights perspective, but have looked at the issue from, as you say, a commonsense perspective, and things are not always that simple."

Green all but dared state officials to arrest poll workers when he tweeted, "Let them come enforce it. If we believe it violates the Constitution, we have the right to keep to our oath." Green's defiance echoes that of Christopher L. Broach, an inspector of elections in the Delaware County borough of Colwyn, who said on my show that he will disobey the law. He has been joined by other local officials.

Am I missing something here? We elect public officials to make and enforce laws. How did we go from the rule of law to lawless rulers? These officials need to be told that if they attempt to break the law on Election Day, they will be prosecuted.

Green's statement was particularly disappointing. Green is not only a public official, but also a lawyer and a leading candidate to be our next mayor. I want principled leaders who know laws must be followed, regardless of whether we agree with them. If you think a law is unfair, you don't encourage people to break it; you work within the system to change it.

The tactics of the voter-ID resistance movement were exemplified by a recent exchange I had with former Congressman Joe Sestak, who told me and a crowd of students at Cheyney University that he was in touch with a 91-year old woman who would be shut out of voting due to this onerous law. I responded that he and I should drop everything and use our contacts to get her qualified to vote, even taking her to a PennDot office if necessary.

Sestak responded that the woman's problem had already been taken care of, and he further accused me of being divisive. I could argue that he was being disingenuous.

The final ploy of those resisting the facts and the law has been to urge the state's chief justice, Ronald Castille, to break with his fellow Republicans and rule against voter ID when it reaches the evenly divided state Supreme Court. They argue that Castille will be seen as a principled maverick and a truly objective jurist if he follows the example of the chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, who twisted himself into a legal pretzel to declare Obamacare constitutional.

For my part, I hope Castille resists the siren call of the Philadelphia elites and follows common sense and legal precedent. Since the media and others are appealing to Castille, though, I'll make my pitch to another justice and proven maverick, Seamus McCaffery, to break ranks with Democrats and declare this law constitutional.


Dom Giordano is a radio talk show host who can be heard on WPHT-AM (1210) and reached via www.domgiordano.com.

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