Some of Pa. Hall of Fame voters at risk of ineligibility
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In September the state's top election official, Carol Aichele, lauded Pennsylvanians who had voted in general elections for 50 straight years and were being named members of the Pennsylvania Voter Hall of Fame.
"Voting is among our most fundamental and important rights as United States citizens," the secretary of the commonwealth told inductees in Butler. "President Eisenhower said, 'The future of the Republic is in the hands of the voters.' Voting is the most basic means by which we, the people, keep control of our government."
A new study by union critics of the state's strict new voter identification law argues nearly a quarter of such Hall of Fame voters, all of whom are elderly, may not have acceptable ID to exercise that right in November.
The AFL-CIO cross-referenced the state's list of some 21,000 Hall of Fame members statewide with 2011 and 2012 voter data and found 5,923 who were still active voters. Of those voters, 1,384 (23 percent) are named in separate state data listing those who do not match up exactly with PennDOT ID data, or have IDs set to expire a year before the Nov. 6 election, rendering them unacceptable for voting.
"These are 1,384 individuals who have not missed a general election since at least 1961 -- but who may very well be prevented from voting for the first time this year -- if they are unaware of the new Voter ID Law, or unable to obtain the proper ID in time for the election," the union umbrella organization stated in releasing the findings.
State officials have consistently said the list of registered voters without PennDOT ID is easily misinterpreted. Many appear on the list because their names do not match up exactly on both sets of data. Some will have other IDs acceptable for voting, such as U.S. passports or military, government, nursing home or Pennsylvania college identification marked with expiration dates.
In July, the state issued a list and sent letters to 758,000 voters who may not have ID as part of an effort to remind them of the new requirements. This fall it plans to send postcards to every voter household statewide.
The AFL-CIO is aligned politically with Democrats who have been fighting the new voter ID law. Last month it distributed a list of 1.6 million voters with no or expiring PennDOT ID, which is full of other supervoters who are not on the Hall of Fame list.
There are more than 79,000 voters statewide who have voted in every general election since 2000, it found.
One voter showing up on the state's no ID list is 18th District congressional candidate Larry Maggi, a Democratic Washington County commissioner, whose PennDOT ID lists him as "Lawrence." Under the law it will be up to an election judge to weigh whether his ID and voter registration "substantially conform" when he shows up to vote in his race against U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair.
First Published August 9, 2012 12:00 am