Savor the franchise
By Joseph Sabino Mistick
Published: Saturday, November 3, 2012, 9:03 p.m.
Updated: Saturday, November 3, 2012
Voting is the best revenge. You do not need to show photo ID or jump through any hoops on Tuesday. Just show up, tell the clerks who you are and cast your ballot for the candidates of your choice.
There are some who did not want it to be that simple this time. The Pennsylvania voter ID law that was rushed into place would have left many voters in its dust but for a wise Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that suspended the application of the law in this presidential election.
And it is this presidential election that was targeted by the new law, cutting turnout among young, elderly and poor voters who have fewer resources to obtain the necessary documents and are likely to support President Obama. That disproportionate impact quickly turned what could be seen as careful management of the voting rolls into voter suppression.
Because a lower court ruling allows polling place officials to still ask for photo ID, even though there is no requirement that you show any, there is some potential for confusion, if not mischief, this week. But you can ignore those who ask for it, politely decline or proudly declare that you are casting your ballot without showing photo ID.
And you should revel in it, because it may be the last time you will vote without some form of identification. As long as required ID is issued solely at state expense, avoiding poll tax comparisons, Pennsylvania is likely to join a growing number of states that require it.
While this might be the latest humbug faced by Pennsylvania voters, it is hardly the only pitfall on the path to suffrage. In Maricopa County, Ariz., where the strain between government and the Latino community is palpable, voter registration cards intended for the Spanish-speaking community incorrectly listed Nov. 8 as Election Day, instead of the 6th. It is an old trick.
In Florida, the Republican governor ordered that voter rolls be purged, ostensibly targeting noncitizens. The Miami Herald reported that 87 percent of the people on the list were minorities and 58 percent were Hispanic. After legal challenges that showed the lists were fraught with errors, Florida officials agreed to restore the voting rights of 2,625 voters who were mistakenly purged.
As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
So do it. Roll right over those who would try to stop you. And savor every moment.
Joseph Sabino Mistick, a lawyer, law professor and political analyst, lives in Squirrel Hill (SabinoMistick@aol.com).
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