[Note: I keep two public blogs, this and Written and Noted, a more eclectic site. I’ve just posted a more detailed most on objections to Voter ID. Here’s the summary]
Voter ID laws nominally arise in the context of some sort of asserted fraud. But documented cases are precious few. The fall back is that the requirement is basically innocuous, “no harm no foul,” yet even here there can be a substantive impact on actual residents. Jonathan Alter at The Washington Monthly provides plenty of details of the impact in Pennsylvania.
In the run-up to passage of the bill, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carol Aichele promoted a study estimating that 99 percent of the state’s registered voters already have valid photo ID from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that would allow them to vote. In other words, the whole thing was no big deal.
It turned out that 9.2 percent of the state’s 8.2 million registered voters — 758,000 people — did not have ID from PennDOT.
If then the amount of reported electoral fraud is minimal, that naturally raises another question, why the push for the law? For the moment, let’s throw out the crassly partisan one, that it’s actually a sneaky way to stop Democrats from voting (albeit contrary to statements in the Alter article above), what then might be the other objections to be raised? Three suggest themselves: A Statist perspective, Voting as a property right, and Jim Crows long, dark shadow.
These three objections are dealt with fully in Three Objections to Voter ID.