Displaying ID at polls draws mixed reactions

New security provision in use for first time in primary

Most registered voters in Pittsburgh's 4th Ward, 8th District -- the largest district in the county with 3,000 eligible voters -- weren't too put off at having to show a photo ID on Tuesday.

That's because they had to show a photo ID just to enter the building.

The polling place in Posvar Hall is one of many University of Pittsburgh buildings with increased security provisions put in place since the recent rash of bomb threats in Oakland.

Still, showing photo identification to vote irks Jasmine Johnson.


"I am totally opposed to this," said Ms. Johnson, 19, a student from Maryland who was voting for the first time in Pennsylvania.

"What if there's a problem with your student ID? Or you're from a small town and you never had to have an ID? I have friends who don't have driver's licenses.

"And it's not just young people. If you're elderly, you might not have a valid ID and it might be inconvenient or difficult to get the paperwork involved. I just think it's excessive and it's inconvenient."

Pennsylvania on Tuesday became the 16th state to ask voters to show a government-issued photo ID at their polling places.

The request, passed by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Tom Corbett in March, becomes a requirement in November.

While critics say the new law could disenfranchise some people, few people at the polls Tuesday objected. And most seemed to know about the change.

"I thought it would be an issue," said a Green Tree poll supervisor who asked not to be identified. "But people who vote in the primaries tend to be more interested and therefore they're more informed. They follow the news, so they knew about it and they came ready.

"I'm not sure [the change] was necessary. We have a more stable, residential community, and we tend to see the same people voting regularly, so we get to know the voters by face, if not by name. But I could see where a more transient population might be subject to fraud."

Others said it was about time the government got serious about identifying voters.

"I've always shown my ID here," said Sherry Cagney, 61, of Green Tree.

"They would tell me that I didn't have to, and I would say, 'I want to. I want to make sure that you know I am who I say I am.'

"There are far too many shenanigans out there," said Ms. Cagney, who said she knew of a case in another community where some members of a family died and votes continued to be cast in their name.

"I want to know that the candidate that is elected is legitimately and legally elected," she said. "Really, what's the problem, what's the inconvenience?"

But Mary Hicks, 45, of Murrysville, did not appreciate being asked to show her ID.

"I was angry. I wonder how many people didn't have ID and were disenfranchised today," she said. "This law is garbage to begin with. It solves a problem that doesn't exist."

electionspa - electionsmunicipal

Dan Majors: dmajors@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1456. First Published April 25, 2012 10:00 AM


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