New Castle News

Closer Look

January 25, 2014

John K. Manna: Rationale for rejected Voter ID law remains suspicous

NEW CASTLE — Back in 2011, state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe said House Bill 934 was needed “to ensure our system has integrity.”

Metcalfe, a Butler County Republican, was the prime sponsor of the bill requiring voters to provide a state-approved photo identification when voting.

The measure was eventually passed by the Legislature in 2012, mostly along party lines, and was signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett.

Last week, a Commonwealth Court judge struck down the law. Judge Bernard McGinley said the law essentially would make it difficult for hundreds of thousands of registered voters to cast ballots.

“Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election,” he wrote. “The voter ID law does not further that goal.”

As of this writing, Corbett has not said whether he would appeal the decision to state Supreme Court. He and staunch supporters of the law have said they believe it is necessary to prevent voter fraud.

A ruling by the Supreme Court — if it decides to hear the case — will be based on legal grounds and whether the law  disenfranchises voters.

Practically speaking, however, laws are usually created to fill a void or meet some need. Unlike most legislation, the voter ID law was not created in response to any known need.

Metcalfe said in 2011 that there had been “many instances of voter fraud and election fraud that have been perpetrated in the state.”

Yet, those supporting the law could provide no evidence of voter fraud occurring in the state.

In fact, the Butler County elections director, told me in 2011that she had worked in the elections office since 2007 and had not seen any evidence of fraud.

Apparently, Metcalfe had not discussed his proposal with the person in his county or asked for any evidence of fraud.

I would think that those who are on the front lines of voting — the election directors who actually experience any problems at the polls — would be the people whom legislators would consult to get the facts.

That is troubling. Is it any wonder then why there is speculation about the real motivation for creating this law?

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