In several Pennsylvania newspapers, I've recently read letters to the editor and opinion pieces opposing our Commonwealth's new voter ID law. Many of these essays erroneously claim voter fraud is a rarity in Pennsylvania, making the new law unnecessary. The truth is voter fraud has a long and well-documented history in our state. Want proof?
In 2007, canvassers working for ACORN in Berks County filed fraudulent voter registration forms to qualify for pay bonuses from the organization, resulting in a prison sentence for one perpetrator. In 2008, fraud occurred in nearby Dauphin County when an ACORN employee similarly filed more than 100 bogus registrations over the course of a single week. Within the last few years, numerous well-documented cases like these have been investigated across Pennsylvania.
Regrettably, the Commonwealth's largest city, Philadelphia, has developed a deplorable reputation for incidents of voter fraud. Many of us remember when U.S. District Judge Clarence Newcomer unseated State Senator Bill Stinson (D-Phila) in 1994 after it was discovered widespread voter fraud -- perpetrated through the absentee ballot process -- helped Stinson steal an election from Bruce Marks (R-Phila). Philadelphia's most memorable case of fraudulent activities is well documented in court records, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other regional media outlets.
In the early 1990's, Pennsylvania had a sensible policy of purging individuals' names from the voter rolls if they had not voted within a reasonable time period. Consequently, in a few weeks we are likely to learn that in Philadelphia there will be tens-of-thousands of more registered voters than citizens of voting age. Sadly, this should come as no surprise, as better than 100 percent turnout has been reported in some voting precincts in Philadelphia during recent Presidential elections. While the purging of voter rolls ensured those who died or relocated were no longer registered, even that practice could not guarantee the identity of legitimate voters.
Unfortunately, voter fraud is not isolated to Pennsylvania and has an inglorious history in many states. How can we forget Cook County, Illinois, where in the 1960 presidential race, ballots were miraculously cast by countless deceased voters. Or New York City, where in 1993 the Rudy Guiliani campaign for mayor famously witnessed individuals riding buses from poll to poll to cast multiple votes.
And just like Pennsylvania, voter fraud remains a serious problem across the country today. In 2008, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) defeated incumbent Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) by a mere 312 votes. Later, it was revealed over 1,000 convicted felons, a population ineligible to cast ballots, voted in the Minnesota election -- enough votes to affect the outcome of the race. And just a few days ago, a Democratic Congressional candidate in Maryland was forced to abandon her campaign when it was revealed she voted in both Maryland and Florida during the 2006 general election and 2008 presidential primaries.
In the United States, the principle of one man one vote is sacrosanct. A fraudulently cast vote negates one cast by an honest American. I believe it is imperative we not only count every vote, but ensure the integrity of every vote. While some will claim voter fraud is not a serious enough problem to warrant the new law and argue it will fail to eliminate all fraudulent activity, it certainly is a reasonable approach to achieving greater integrity in our democratic process.
Other than far left political activists and media antagonists, I have discovered few reasonable people believe the requirement to present photo ID when voting is an electoral barrier. In fact, the proposal has garnered widespread public support throughout our region, where residents are accustomed to presenting photo ID to cash a check, board an airplane, or buy a beer at an Phillies game.