Looks good on paper...
A trial over Pennsylvania's fraudulent voter I.D. law will be conducted this summer. Meanwhile, Congress has the opportunity to establish a system that honestly addresses the issues that the state law pretends to tackle, while making it easier to vote.
Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a champion of the civil rights movement who understands the importance of access to voting, has introduced the Voter Empowerment Act. Based on a comprehensive voting reform plan devised by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, the bill also has been introduced in the Senate, by Sen. Kristen Gillibrand.
Pennsylvania's voter identification law is meant to suppress voting under the guise of fighting fraud, even though administration officials have admitted in court that there is no record of the in-person vote fraud that the bill purports to fight.
Cynical politicians are able to claim fraud because, here in the 21st century, voting records in many states rely on piles of paper. The bill in Congress would mandate the use of modern computer technology to maintain accurate voting databases. It would be tied in to the Social Security database, so the names of dead people automatically would be purged from voting lists. When a voter moves, his registration automatically would transfer to his new district. With consent, a person would be registered to vote when conducting business with any federal agency. That doesn't meant the individual would vote in any particular election, but the registration would be reliable for all elections.
The bill requires the federal government to provide funding to states for technology upgrades. It would save money because digital record-keeping is far less expensive than paper-based systems.
A study by professors from Cal Tech and MIT, following the 2008 election, found that registration problems prevented up to 2 million eligible voters from casting ballots. Congress should act this year to increase participation, reduce costs and truly fight fraud by passing the bill.