Measure to require voter ID at polling places moves ahead
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HARRISBURG -- A measure that would require voters to show photo identification when they go to cast their ballot now awaits consideration by the state House of Representatives, following a lengthy committee debate this morning.
The bill from Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry and chair of the State Government Committee, passed the panel on a party-lines vote of 15-9. Under the proposal, voters would be required to show a photo identification card issued by either the state or federal government.
Pennsylvania voters currently are only required to show an ID during their first time at a polling site.
If a voter does not have an ID card, the state Department of Transportation would issue one at no cost. That provision, added during this morning's meeting, was criticized by Democrats as potentially expensive. Mr. Metcalfe said an estimate of the cost has been requested, but was not yet available.
Other changes in the amendment from Mr. Metcalfe would make the measure effective in January 2012, and would allow those who live in the same building as their polling place, such as those in an assisted-living facility, to only show ID if it is their first time at the polling location.
More than a dozen other amendments from Democratic lawmakers, to expand the types of identification that would be accepted and provide exemptions to the requirement, were all rejected during the 2 1/2-hour meeting.
Mr. Metcalfe and other supporters have said the measure is an attempt to "ensure that every lawfully cast vote is counted and not cancelled out by a fraudulent one."
Several Democrats on the panel, as well as the state's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and county commissioners association, have said they are against the bill. Opponents say they've seen no proof of voter fraud schemes, and that it would place an unnecessary burden on those who do not have identification.
First Published May 9, 2011 2:04 pm