Pew study doesn't support call for voter ID

Gov. Corbett's budget proposal sets aside $1 million in anticipation of a voter ID bill passing. (Ron Tarver / Staff Photographer

A national survey showing flaws in voter record-keeping offers further proof that Harrisburg and other Republican-run state capitals pushing to require government-issued photo identification to vote are ignoring a glaring problem while battling virtually nonexistent voter fraud.

The finding announced Tuesday by the Pew Center on the States demonstrates the need to clean up voter rolls that are muddled by duplicate and out-of-date registrations.

Among the issues needing attention are purging the rolls of voters who have died or moved and registered elsewhere and correcting data that’s incorrect in other ways. Such registration problems led to 2.2 million votes being lost during the 2008 elections, according to experts. What the Pew study did not find, though, was any evidence that the bad record-keeping has led to voter fraud.

GOP lawmakers promoting so-called voter ID laws — Gov. Corbett among them — point to supposed fraud as the reason to require citizens to go to unheard-of lengths to identify themselves at the polls. But given that fraud has not been shown by any study to be a significant factor in the outcome of elections in Pennsylvania, that’s clearly a bogus issue.

Meanwhile, the likely negative impact of voter ID rules would be to deny the franchise to low-income, minority, and elderly voters who often don’t have driver’s licenses or other government-issued identification. That’s seen by objective political observers as a direct attack on the Democratic voter base, which makes voter ID proposals that much more suspect.

While one in eight registrations nationwide were found to be invalid or incorrect in Pew’s study, the center also said 25 percent of voting-age Americans were not registered at all. That’s yet another sign the nation needs to make it easier to register and vote — rather than erect new barriers to voting like photo ID rules.