As I’m sure already know, you now need a non-expired photo ID to vote this November in the state of Pennsylvania. What types of ID are accepted, you ask?
- US Government (Passport)
- Commonwealth of PA (DL or ID Card)
- Licensed Nursing Homes
- State, Cities, and Counties Employee IDs
- Higher Ed Institutions (with some limitations)
But let’s dig into the language of #2 a bit more. Here’s the text from the law itself:
(2) A VALID IDENTIFICATION CARD ISSUED BY ANY OTHER AGENCY OF THE COMMONWEALTH
An ‘agency of the commonwealth?’ Would anybody argue that public libraries are not agencies of the commonwealth?
Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton Jr. certainly thinks they are in his state; he is currently battling their voter ID law down in Tennessee in a different way than most. Essentially, Mayor Wharton is revamping their library ID system in Memphis to include photo and expiration date, while helping get them distributed to voters before their countywide August 2nd elections.
Since he’s backed by lawyers that believe a valid library photo ID satisfies the law, he’s informing voters about the new library cards and suggesting, if they have no other ID, to use them for early voting (starting July 13th) to see if they get turned away. If so, they plan to take it to court to see who comes out on top. If Mayor Wharton wins, thousands of voters could have a much easier time obtaining photo ID (at their local library) before the November elections.
Could something like this also happen in Democratic cities like Allentown, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, etc.? Mayors would have to revamp their city’s library ID process, but that can’t come close to the amount of money voter ID is costing the state. And since the libraries have an apparent partnership with the state on educating the public about voter ID in Pennsylvania, wouldn’t the ultimate partnership be distributing photo IDs themselves?
The obvious advantage Memphis has with this strategy is that they have the buffer August 2nd county elections, which will obviously be enormously smaller than the November 6th Presidential. That means they can test this theory on a smaller number of people before having a judge rule on it.
But let’s say that a mayor in Pennsylvania tries it and even loses. Wouldn’t that put the final nail in the coffin proving that this photo ID law is 100% about voter suppression? Why would the Corbett administration deny potentially thousands of people from voting with a photo ID from a government agency if it actually was about voter fraud? You know, the voter fraud that Tom Corbett prosecuted zero cases of during his full six years as Pennsylvania Attorney General.
What do you think?