Voter ID Madness


A couple of months ago, suffering from a sore throat, I walked into a local chain pharmacy to buy some cough syrup.   The young lady at the check-out counter asked to see my driver’s license or some other form of photo ID. Since I was quite certain she wasn’t making sure I was “of age,” I asked the reason why? She said it was store policy that you had to show a photo ID in order to purchase certain over the counter medications, including cough syrup.

This is clearly discriminatory and is a violation of the civil right of each and every American without a photo ID to purchase cough syrup. Obviously this pharmacy is attempting to suppress participation in the use of cough syrup by putting up unconscionable barriers to use of the product. This amounts to nothing less than class warfare, as pharmacies are catering to the rich and trampling on the poor and disadvantaged, none of whom possess a photo ID.

State government tells us that less than one percent of Pennsylvanians are without a photo ID, and those individuals can easily go to their local PennDOT office and get an identification card with their picture on it free of charge so that they too can purchase cough syrup. But why should they be forced to do that? Why should that 1% be required to act like the other 99% of society and get a photo ID so they can remedy their colds?

This is an outrage! Clearly the big pharmacies and the brutal regime of Governor Tom Corbett are conspiring to disenfranchise thousands of their fellow Pennsylvanians. They are erecting artificial barriers to the purchase of cough syrup which will depress turn-out at the check-out counter during cough and cold season. Worse, this could result in long lines as clerks check for ID and explain to the poor and dispossessed that they cannot exercise their right to buy cough syrup.

It is high time somebody contact the ACLU and demands they sue in state courts to prevent the implementation of photo ID policies at pharmacies. Why haven’t Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and others staged protests at drug stores throughout Penn’s Woods? Why is Chris Matthews not getting a tingle up his leg over this issue? Why hasn’t the Justice Department intervened, a White House czar been appointed or Homeland Security been notified?

Sound a bit ridiculous? Well, that’s because it is. Just like the current uproar over Pennsylvania’s new photo voter ID law. Given that voting is a more serious function than the purchase of cough syrup – or the dozens of other mundane tasks that require a photo voter ID – why would we not require proper ID before allowing a person to vote?

The Left in general, and Democrats in particular are wailing, moaning, renting garments and predicting the end of the Republic as we know it because Pennsylvania has enacted a law requiring voters to present a photo ID when showing up to vote on election day. They call it a “barrier” to voting. But then, being required to register to vote could also be considered a barrier. Sometimes a few barriers are necessary to ensure the integrity of the process.

The caterwauling includes loud claims that photo voter ID is a solution in search of a problem. There is, they claim, no election fraud in Pennsylvania. But then along came Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt who turned up evidence of irregularities in last spring’s primary election. That alone is worrisome in that the primary election was a low key, low turn-out event. If there were irregularities in a relatively insignificant election, imagine what the impact could be this November when the Presidency itself could hinge on Pennsylvania’s electoral votes.

Governor Corbett and a majority in both houses of the General Assembly are simply trying to ensure the integrity of Pennsylvania’s electoral process. A fair election doesn’t advantage or disadvantage one party over the other, but it does give citizens confidence in the results.

PennDOT, the Department of State and other agencies are working hard to make sure each and every Pennsylvanian who wants a photo ID can get one in time to cast their ballot in November. To suggest taking that step is in any way other than the responsible and proper thing to do is, well, ridiculous.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.   His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org)

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