Your Voice | Navigating bureaucracy

A reader responds to College junior Andrew Silverstein's guest opinion column

· March 11, 2012, 11:08 pm   ·  Updated March 12, 2012, 11:35 pm

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I wholeheartedly agree with College junior Andrew Silverstein’s opinion piece.

Democracy works best when more people participate, and yet in states across the country and right here in Pennsylvania, our elected officials are devising ways to suppress voters. Instead of working to raise voter turnout with innovation and registration modernization, lawmakers in Harrisburg are putting hurdles in our way. Proposed voter ID legislation could disenfranchise more than 690,000 voters in Pennsylvania. Those who will be most impacted by the proposed voter ID law are youth, the elderly, low-income and minority voters who may not have the resources to get a qualifying ID.

Pennsylvania already requires all first-time voters to show ID. HB 934 extends the requirement to all voters and severely limits forms of acceptable ID. HB 934 would not allow a driver’s license from another state, an expired driver’s license, a voter identification card, a bank statement, utility bill or other ID that effectively verify who you are.

Most importantly, HB 934 disenfranchises elderly, disabled, working poor and students. A 2006 PennDOT estimate found that 691,000 Pennsylvanians do not have a driver’s license. African Americans, seniors, people with disabilities, the working poor and students are twice as likely to lack ID. Getting a state ID is not free; it can be costly and difficult to get the underlying documents, such as a certified birth certificate, required to get a state ID. Navigating the bureaucracy requires dedication and perseverance and is burdensome. The expenses and difficulties associated with acquiring IDs would effectively prevent many eligible voters from voting. This is second-class citizenship.

I urge students of Penn to call their legislator and sign this petition: http://signon.org/sign/stop-voter-suppression-3.

Gina Shin is an intern at Penn Public Interest Research Group. She is due to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. Her email address is ginashin@sas.upenn.edu.

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