Saturday, September 22, 2012

Voting Optional

You might think no one could be more ridiculous than was Mitt Romney when he commented

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, 48—he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. And he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that's what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people—I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independents that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not, what it looks like. I mean, when you ask those people…we do all these polls—I find it amazing—we poll all these people, see where you stand on the polls, but 45 percent of the people will go with a Republican, and 48 or 4…

But U.S. Representative Daryl Metcalf of Pennsylvania, responding to a question during a radio interview about voter ID in his state,  did his party's presidential nominee one better.   Metcalfe, like Romney, not only disregarded the 28.3% of households who contribute payroll tax (thus, obviously, working) but remarked

I don’t believe any legitimate voter that actually wants to exercise that right and takes on the according responsiblity that goes with that right to secure their photo ID will be disenfranchised. As Mitt Romney said, 47% of the people that are living off the public dole, living off their neighbors’ hard work, and we have a lot of people out there that are too lazy to get up and get out there and get the ID they need. If individuals are too lazy, the state can’t fix that.

Metcalf doesn't understand the purpose of the the voter suppression legislation enacted by the GOP in Pennsylvania.   In August,  Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson  refused to issue an injunction against its implementation.   On Tuesday, the state Supreme Court decided by a 4-2 vote to send the case back to the Judge for a "supplemental opinion."   Positive signs:  the Court labeled the franchise a fundamental right and appeared to shift to Judge Simpson the burden of demonstrating that "no voter disenfranchisement" would result from implementation of the legislation.  Negative sign: the two dissenters were two of the three Democrats.

Only a tiny percentage of the individuals have obtained the identification they need, which is not surprising given, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer

When the case was argued before the high court last week, Saylor noted that the state had not followed the letter of the law, which requires PennDot to provide a nondriver photo ID card for free to any registered voter who swears he or she needs it for voting purposes - "a policy of liberal access," as the majority put it Tuesday.

But state officials said federal Homeland Security requirements prevented PennDot from being so lenient - so the Corbett administration's Department of State, which oversees elections, imposed tougher rules on issuance of the nondriver IDs.

That department "has realized, and the commonwealth parties have candidly conceded, that the law is not being implemented according to its terms," the opinion said.

Initially, the state required voters needing photo IDs to provide certified birth certificates, Social Security cards, and proofs of residence. On the eve of Simpson's hearings, it announced a new plan to issue photo ID good for voting purposes only, requiring voters simply to give their dates of birth and Social Security numbers, along with documentation of residency.

So the Pennsylvania legislature passes a law making it more difficult for elderly persons, minorities, the poor, disabled individuals, and students (all Democratic constituencies) to vote.   Then the Republican governor, finding the legislation inconsistent with federal security guidelines, decides not to forego implementation nor to implement it as passed by the legislature but to change the law to his own liking.

GOP to its citizens:  heads we win, tails you lose.  If the individuals, in Metcalf's terms, are not too "lazy," we'll just make it even more difficult.  Perhaps if more people still apply for identification cards, we'll ramp up the requirements further.    It's back to the future for the Gas and Oil Party, as two (below) of Gary Trudeau's recent cartoons demonstrate.   If you can't win their votes, just stop them from voting.

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