11 Jul 2012 Pennsylvania Voter Registration Report Shows Need for Ballot Protection Law
Media Skips Over Potential Ghost Voter Problem to Trumpet Misleading Numbers
Washington, D.C. – Misleading media coverage of a recent Pennsylvania voter registration survey gives the false perception that the commonwealth’s new ballot protection measure may cause voter disfranchisement. To the contrary, as National Center for Public Policy Research executive director David Almasi points out in a new National Policy Analysis paper, the media overlooks how the report actually points out why voter safeguards are needed to protect against identity theft in the electoral process.
What the report did, Almasi notes, is uncover potentially erroneous registrations that would allow “ghost voters” to cancel out the ballots of legal voters — fulfilling a valuable public service.
An examination of the Pennsylvania voter list recently found that more than 750,000 registered voters lack a corresponding driver’s license. In his reporting about the disparity, Slate’s Dave Weigel called this “an apocalypse to watch out for,” and the Philadelphia Inquirer suggested Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law is “putting… voting rights at risk.” But, as Almasi points out in “Misleading Statistics Driving Voter ID Criticism in Pennsylvania“:
Upon closer inspection, such reporting is much ado about nothing. If anything, it makes a stronger case for reforming the voting process to protect against identity fraud at the polls…
It’s only past these shocking leads that one learns that other forms of ID are acceptable. Provisional ballots are available. Furthermore, a substantial portion of the names on the list may not even be eligible voters.
“Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele noted that all the report chronicled was the number of people not on both lists. It is by no means an indicator of who cannot vote because all sorts of other photo ID, including military ID, government employee IDs, accredited Pennsylvania college and university IDs and IDs from elderly care centers, are acceptable at the polls and provisional ballots will be available for those still lacking suitable ID. Additionally, commonwealth officials plan to send letters to all of the additional names on the voter registration list about the requirements of the new voter ID law and how to obtain a free and acceptable ID,” says Almasi.
Because approximately a quarter of the registered voters without a corresponding driver’s license also have not voted since 2007, the commonwealth’s letter will also help in determining if these people are dead, have moved or are otherwise candidates for being placed on “inactive” status — a step toward removing invalid names from the voter list. Almasi notes:
What does raise a red flag is that 167,566 names on the list — over 22 percent — haven’t voted since 2007. If they don’t respond to their letter, they go on an “inactive” list. If they don’t vote in the next two federal elections, they can legitimately be removed.
These inactive voters may be people who died or moved — thus explaining why there is no longer a corresponding valid driver’s license. If that’s the case, the presence of these invalid registrations are temptations for identity thieves whose criminal acts nullify the votes of legitimate voters.
Almasi’s National Policy Analysis paper, available at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA638.html, was published as an op-ed by the Daily Caller on July 10, 2012.
The National Center for Public Policy Research is a conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank established in 1982. It is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters. In 2011 it received over 350,000 individual donations. Two percent of its revenue comes from corporate sources. Contributions to it are tax-deductible.