Top Pa. elections official admits not knowing voter ID law

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HARRISBURG -- The top Pennsylvania elections official conceded a lack of familiarity with the new voter ID law on Tuesday as she was questioned by attorneys challenging the requirement.

As testimony continued a fifth day in a lawsuit seeking to delay implementation of the law, an attorney for the challengers asked Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele for details -- such as past requirements for state identification and the magnitude of colleges without ID expiration dates -- that she was unable to provide.

Ms. Aichele has served as the administration's face in explaining the law to the press and the public since its signing in March.

When attorney David Gersch pressed for the particulars of one form of identification acceptable for voting, she responded: "I don't know what the law says."

Opponents of the voter ID law argue it would disenfranchise eligible voters who lack an acceptable form of identification and, in some cases, the documents required to get one. While Ms. Aichele agreed on Tuesday some registered voters do not have identification through the Department of Transportation, she stood by an analysis suggesting about 99 percent of adults have photo identification.

After defending the 99-percent analysis, Ms. Aichele was pressed further about the number of registered voters without photo identification. She responded: "We don't know."

Mr. Gersch pushed Ms. Aichele to concede that her agency has encouraged voters to seek identification from PennDOT rather than sources with less rigorous requirements.

But Ms. Aichele said a driver's license or other PennDOT identification is the best option for people needing an ID.

state

Karen Langley: klangley@post-gazette.com or 1-717-787-2141


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