A bill to target voter fraud has seen support and criticism from political groups.
Gov. Tom Corbett signed a bill March 14, which gives Pennsylvania one of the toughest voter identification laws in the country.
House bill 934, aimed at preventing voter fraud, requires voters to provide proper photo-identification before they are allowed to cast a ballot. Valid forms of identification under the new law include driver’s licenses, state identification cards, elderly care identification, passports, student identification cards, employee identification cards or military identification cards.
Voters who show up to the polls without proper identification would be able to vote provisionally, according to the new law. Some say, however, that this could lead to longer lines at polling locations.
“The provisional ballot process is kind of lengthy so neither the voters nor the poll watchers are going to be real excited about filling out a lot of provisional ballot paperwork,” political science professor Michael Hagen said. “So, I’m not sure that’s going to really address all of the problems that might crop up.”
The new law, set to take effect for the November presidential election, has been hailed by some on Main Campus for its effort in combating forms of voter fraud involving the impersonation of voters.
“I support voter [identification] just because you should be who you say you are whenever you’re going to the polls to vote,” Erik Jacobs, junior political science major and president of the Temple University College Republicans, said. “We have to show our identification to drive a vehicle, to buy liquor, to buy cigarettes, to open a bank account, to cash a check, to use a credit card, there’s no logical reason, in my opinion, why you shouldn’t have to show one when you vote.”
“If we truly are one person and one vote, then we should make sure that the person who’s voting is actually the person they claim to be,” Jacobs added.
The bill, while lauded by conservatives, has been criticized by many people across the city who have said that its claims of voter fraud are unfounded.
“I think the bill’s a sham,” Councilman at-large Jim Kenney said. “There’s no reason to do the legislation let alone sign it into law. I haven’t heard any complaints or evidence of voter fraud based on posing as someone else. I don’t know of any time anyone’s ever been accused of impersonating a voter.”
Dylan Morpurgo, membership director for the Temple College Democrats, said the risk of getting caught is enough to deter most people from impersonating others.
“Voter impersonation is a federal crime that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison,” Morpurgo, a sophomore political science major, said. “It’s a crime that’s not worth it. It doesn’t happen.”
Though Morpurgo and Kenney said the law is baseless, proponents of the bill claim that voter fraud is not always obvious.
“I think that their claims are just not based in facts,” Jacobs said. “There’s voter fraud going on everywhere. A lot of voter fraud is not documentable because what happens is, let’s say that I’m Erik, but I want to go to the polls to vote for Joe Smith I show up, I claim that I’m Joe Smith, I get Joe Smith’s information, and I vote on behalf of Joe. That show’s up as a legitimate vote, but it’s actually voter fraud and there’s no way to document it.”
While the bill has generated debate over voter fraud, Morpurgo said the bill largely affects college students.
“Overall the bill disenfranchises thousands of voters,” Morpurgo said. “The requirements are that you have to have a picture, you have to have a name…and an expiration date. Temple IDs don’t have expiration dates. Hundreds of universities don’t have expiration dates.”
Morpurgo added that TCD will be asking Temple to add expiration dates to the current university identification cards.
Sean Carlin can be reached at email@example.com.