Pennsylvania’s Racist Voter ID Law

by LINN WASHINGTON, Jr.

One week before a Pennsylvania court judge upheld that state’s controversial Voter ID law by concluding the measure’s impact was “neutral and nondiscriminatory,” critics of that law released a disturbing study documenting the law’s discriminatory impact on voters in Philadelphia.

This week’s ruling by PA Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson rejecting a request for an injunction blocking implementation of the Voter ID law in November’s presidential election casually dismissed evidence that the measure would adversely impact the elderly, infirm, college students and racial minorities.

Yet, a geographic analysis of voter data in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest city, concluded that the state’s “new strict photo ID requirement may be in effect a racially discriminatory voting procedure…African-American and Latino communities are disproportionately affected by the Voter ID law…”

That analysis, prepared for Stephanie Singer, chair of Philadelphia’s three elections supervising City Commissioners, detailed how areas around Philadelphia’s major universities, like the University of Pennsylvania and in heavily low-income/minority neighborhoods, contained the largest percentages of persons now rendered ineligible to vote under the Voter ID law.

“This law has a racial impact,” Singer said about the ID law formally known as Act 18.

According to the analysis, the “spatial distribution” of persons lacking the required ID to vote is “non-random.”

While the analysis only examined Philadelphia, the researchers stated the patterns they discovered probably existed in “rural and even suburban” areas of Pennsylvania.

“I’m very much opposed to this law but I have to enforce it since it is the law,” Singer said about the measure that now requires state-issued photo identification in order to vote – even from voters who’ve utilized the same polling place for decades.

Stella Tsai, past president of the Asian-Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania, said she is concerned about the ID law’s adverse impact on Asian-Americans.

“Our citizens in Philadelphia face language problems already. This law will increase problems,” Tsai said. “The key here is for all Americans to be eligible to vote. We can’t allow laws to create barriers.”

Judge Simpson stated in his ruling that he was “convinced” that all eligible voters in Pennsylvania will “have their votes counted in the general election.”

Simpson’s ruling in this Voter ID law battle that has drawn national attention relied on testimony from state officials who promised that measures will be in place by early September to provide ID cards to all who need them by the October 9 deadline for voter registration or the November 6 election…

Linn Washington, Jr. is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He lives in Philadelphia. 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
September 4-6, 2015
Lawrence Ware
No Refuge: the Specter of White Supremacy Still Haunts Black America
Paul Street
Bi-Polar Disorder: Obama’s Bait-and-Switch Environmental Politics
Vijay Prashad
Regime Change Refugees: On the Shores of Europe
Kali Akuno
Until We Win: Black Labor and Liberation in the Disposable Era
Arun Gupta
Field Notes to Life During the Apocalypse
Steve Hendricks
Come Again? Second Thoughts on My Ashley Madison Affair
Paul Craig Roberts
Whither the Economy?
Ron Jacobs
Bernie Sanders’ Vision: As Myopic as Every Other Candidate or Not?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and Crisis
Jeffrey St. Clair
Arkansas Bloodsuckers: the Clintons, Prisoners and the Blood Trade
Richard W. Behan
Republican Fail, Advantage Sanders: the Indefensible Budget for Defense
Ted Rall
Call It By Its Name: Censorship
Susan Babbitt
“Swarms” Entering the UK? What We Can Still Learn About the Migrant Crisis From Che Guevara
Andrew Levine
Compassionate Conservatism: a Reconsideration and an Appreciation
John Wight
Adrift Without Sanctuary: a Sick and Twisted Morality
Binoy Kampmark
Sieges in an Age of Austerity: Monitoring Julian Assange
Colin Todhunter
Europe’s Refugee Crisis and the Depraved Morality of David Cameron
JP Sottile
Chinese Military Parade Freak-Out
Kathleen Wallace
The Child Has a Name, They All Do
David Rosen
Why So Few Riots?
Norm Kent
The Rent Boy Raid: Homeland Security Should Monitor Our Borders Not Our Bedrooms
Michael Welton
Canada’s Arrogant Autocrat: the Rogue Politics of Stephen Harper
Ramzy Baroud
Palestine’s Crisis of Leadership: Did Abbas Destroy Palestinian Democracy?
Jim Connolly
Sniping at the Sandernistas: Left Perfectionism in the Belly of the Beast
Pepe Escobar
Say Hello to China’s New Toys
Sylvia C. Frain
Tiny Guam, Huge US Marine Base Expansions
Pete Dolack
Turning National Parks into Corporate Profit Centers
Ann Garrison
Africa’s Problem From Hell: Samantha Power
Dan Glazebrook
British Home Secretary Theresa May: Savior or Slaughterer of Black People?
Christopher Brauchli
Poor, Poor, Pitiful Citigroup
Norman Pollack
Paradigm of a Fascist Mindset: Nicholas Burns on Iran
Barry Lando
Standing at the Bar of History: Could the i-Phone Really Have Prevented the Holocaust?
Linn Washington Jr.
Critics of BlackLivesMatter# Practice Defiant Denial
Roger Annis
Canada’s Web of Lies Over Syrian Refugee Crisis
Chris Zinda
Constitutional Crisis in the Heart of Dixie
Rannie Amiri
Everything Stinks: Beirut Protests and Garbage Politics
Graham Peebles
Criminalizing Refugees
Missy Comley Beattie
In Order To Breathe
James McEnteer
Blast From the Past in Buenos Aires
Patrick Higgins
A Response to the “Cruise Missile Left”
Tom H. Hastings
Too Broke to Pay Attention
Edward Leer
Love, Betrayal, and Donuts
Louis Proyect
Migrating Through Hell: Quemada-Diez’s “La Jaula de Oro”
Charles R. Larson
Class and Colonialism in British Cairo
David Yearsley
Michael Sarin: Drumming Like Summer Fireworks Over a Choppy Lake