HARRISBURG -- Opponents of the new state voter ID requirement rallied outside the Capitol this afternoon on the eve of a hearing on a challenge to the law.
Commonwealth Court will hear arguments starting Wednesday from the ACLU of Pennslyvania and several other organizations seeking to overturn the legislation.
Standing before an inflatable Liberty Bell, people organized by the NAACP and labor unions argued that requiring voters to present an approved form of photo identification would disenfranchise legitimate voters. H.T. Berry, vice president of an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local in Beaver County, said he believes the law is illegal.
"All it's effecting is the middle and lower class people," he said. "It's a ploy to attack these people to get Obama out of office."
Organizers could not point to any participants who will be unable to vote because of the law, but they said they know of people who may be prevented from voting. Sandra Thompson, president of the York branch of the NAACP, walked around with a clipboard looking for potential voters to register.
Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele responded to the rally with a press conference defending the law. Only members of the press were allowed inside the Senate room, and protesters in the hall chanted: "We want in."
Asked about a stipulation, signed by both parties in the lawsuit, that the state would offer neither evidence of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania nor evidence that voter fraud would be likely without the law this November, Ms. Aichele said there are few cases of such kind of fraud.
"The attorney general is not going to pursue the issue of cases brought for voter impersonations, for voter fraud," she said. "If there are cases, there are very few."
But she suggested this might be because district attorneys use limited resources to prosecute other crimes: "If you're a district attorney in a county, and you have a choice to prosecute crimes like murder, rape and armed robbery, you're going to do that before you go after the voter fraud cases."
Ms. Aichele said the law would build confidence in the voting process, and she described ways the Department of State is working to ensure that all legitimate voters can cast their ballots.
Karen Langley: firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-787-2141