Imagine you are at the polls. It’s Nov. 6, and you are ready to cast your vote on an election that not only will alter the course of this country, but also this university. You then learn you are not allowed to. Because you do not have a photo ID.
At the beginning of this month, Common Wealth Court Judge Robert Simpson ruled that Pennsylvanians without a government-approved photo ID will be able to cast their votes in this year’s election. By temporarily striking down a requirement for photo ID to vote, Simpson has ruled against disenfranchisement — at least for the time being.
Proponents of legislation for a photo ID requirement cite its necessity for preventing voter fraud. However, a recent study by News21 has revealed that there have been very little known cases of voter fraud at in-person polling places, an acknowledgement that has been made by both supporters and opponents of the bill.
Without actual statistics to back up the concern for voter fraud, arguments for photo ID are baseless. Requirements for photo identification often restrict underrepresented groups, youth, the poor, disabled people and the elderly from voting. Jon Rogowski of Washington University in St. Louis and Cathy Cohen of the University of Chicago found that turnout from young people of color could be between 538,000 and 696,000 in states with photo ID laws. With the election nearly three weeks away, concerns for voter fraud are becoming increasingly illegitimate.
Simpson ruled with a preliminary injunction, which means the bill’s status as passed will remain, however it will not affect this election and will not come into effect until after Nov. 6. Simpson reasoned that Pennsylvania has not done enough to provide alternative forms of photo ID in time for the upcoming election. Interestingly, Pennsylvania voters could be asked to produce photo ID anyway, however if they do not have them, they can still vote on a normal voting machine.
The battle over photo ID legislation has not been fought in Pennsylvania alone. According to a CNN article, four out 31 states with voter ID requirements require a photo ID. Five other states have passed photo ID laws that are either currently being reviewed or challenged.
We are lucky to live in a state that does not require photo ID cards to vote. All the more reason to make sure you get out and vote on Nov. 6 — the university you attend and the communities you live in depend on it.