Pa. law is a giant step backward for civil rights
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Reviewing articles on Pennsylvania's voter ID law, I have noticed a lot of noble efforts to educate voters. However, I feel the real issue is not being addressed. The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1870, ensured that a person's race, color or prior status as a slave could not be used to bar the person from voting. Fifty years later in 1920, the 19th Amendment guaranteed women the right to vote.
It took the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to outlaw many of the tactics states were using to disenfranchise the African-American voter -- tactics like literacy tests, grandfather clauses, poll taxes and other "Jim Crow" laws. It seems like ancient history, but remember that civil rights advocates were killed because of their efforts to register African-American voters and ensure their right to vote.
Now 47 years later, our commonwealth has taken a giant step backward in the arena of civil rights. The photo ID requirement is not about "voter fraud," but rather it is an attempt to disenfranchise citizens. Those without the proper ID are disproportionately the elderly, minorities, women and the poor. Their voices deserve to be heard and their votes deserve to be counted.
Why is our commonwealth trying to disenfranchise its citizens? It is an important question to ask, and one that is not being answered.
First Published September 28, 2012 12:00 am