Photo Voter ID Will Restore Election Integrity

Member Group : Lincoln Institute

Recent polling suggests the upcoming General Election re-match between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will be a closely fought contest especially here in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. The Real Clear Politics average of publically released polls gives Donald Trump a scant one half of one percent lead in the battle for the state’s Electoral votes.

The closeness of the race places a bright spotlight on the commonwealth’s electoral process. Questions continue to linger over the integrity of the 2020 election. There may or may not have been outright fraud, but there is no doubt rulings by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and rule changes by the Department of State at a minimum were a factor, if not the deciding factor in Joe Biden’s “win.”

Exacerbating voter skepticism over the integrity of the 2020 vote were the many rule changes enacted supposedly in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, chief among them the advent of no-excuse mail-in voting. In perhaps the biggest political miscalculation in the history of Penn’s Woods Republicans agreed to allow mail-in balloting in exchange for eliminating the straight party line vote.

There appears to be scant evidence elimination of the straight party line vote has been politically beneficial to the GOP, but there is ample evidence that the party has suffered widespread defeats due to mail-in balloting.

Many in the Republican Party have, with some degree of justification, questioned the integrity of mail-in balloting. That depressed the use of mail-in ballots by Republicans while Democrats embraced the method to build often insurmountable leads in local and statewide races. Conservative groups are now organizing to compete more effectively for mail-in votes, but the continued use of such balloting perpetuates a lack of voter trust in the integrity of the election process.

And so, with confidence lacking in changes made four years ago along comes Pennsylvania House Speaker Joanna McClinton with proposals to sew even more seeds of distrust. She recently proposed allow same day voter registration at polling places. Unregistered voters could simply show up on Election Day, register in the party of their choice and be allowed to cast a vote. No up-front verification of their eligibility, no check to see if they are already registered elsewhere, just show up, register and vote. The opportunity for fraud such a change would unleash is breath-taking.

A more realistic McClinton proposal would be to establish a two week period of time in advance of Election Day when voters could go to a secure polling place, such as the county voter registration office, and cast an early ballot. Eliminating unsecure mail-in voting and replacing it with early voting at secure polling locations would be a reasonable trade-off. That would require logic and compromise. Given the hyper partisan bent of the House Democratic majority that is unlikely to happen.

There is one change which could be made that would make our elections significantly more secure, and go a long way toward allaying voter qualms about the process: that would be passage of a state constitutional amendment requiring photo voter ID.

Such a proposed state constitutional amendment was approved during the last session of the state legislature. But, to be placed on the ballot for a voter referendum proposed constitutional amendments must pass two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly. In the current session the state Senate did pass the amendment, but it has languished in a state House committee.

House Republican leaders this past week began a procedural process aimed at getting the photo voter ID bill out of committee and brought to the House floor for a vote. Almost all Republicans and some Democrats support the bill. Polls show photo voter ID has broad bi-partisan voter support.

Democrat leadership, however, continues to peddle the false narrative that a photo voter ID requirement would somehow made it more difficult for people to vote. Given the fact you need a photo ID to buy cough syrup at your local drug store it would only disadvantage those whose intent it is to commit voter fraud.

In the wake of the 2020 election the state of Georgia passed significant reforms aimed at restoring the integrity of their electoral system – including a photo voter ID requirement. The result was the voter participate rate actually increased as more people had confidence that their vote mattered.

Photo voter ID is critical to restoring public confidence in Pennsylvania’s electoral system. It is time for We the People to be given the opportunity to make the decision via referendum at the ballot box. To deny us that opportunity is to put Democracy at risk.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is [email protected].)

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