Got ID? Under the new state law, even super-voters don't
Share with others:
Every day, the number of voters likely to face difficulties on Election Day because of Pennsylvania's new requirements for photo identification gets longer and the sinister fallout from the law becomes more evident.
Here are some highlights from testimony during a Commonwealth Court hearing on a challenge to the law:
Allegheny County's election director, Mark Wolosik, predicted longer lines at polling places and the possibility that his office will need to process far more provisional ballots than in the past.
An expert in the field said his survey found that many residents mistakenly believe they have proper ID. Matt Barreto, an associate professor at the University of Washington, estimated that 14.4 percent of eligible voters lack a valid photo ID, and Allegheny County's rate was higher at 18.7 percent.
The state's top elections official, Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele, said even she didn't know details of the law's ID requirements.
Most surprising is the presence of some politically active voters on a list of those who could face disenfranchisement. The state's list gives the names of registered voters who don't show up in records of the state Transportation Department as possessing licenses or state-issued photo ID. The 99,115 county residents include Pittsburgh Councilman Bill Peduto; Judy O'Connor, wife of the city's late mayor; Allegheny County Councilman John DeFazio; Cathy Fitzgerald, wife of the county executive; Democratic House Leader Frank Dermody and county Judge Michael Della Vecchia.
The Department of State said it knew its list would be overly broad, but officials wanted to be sure to alert as many people who might be affected by the change as possible. They say the local officials who made the list won't have trouble voting. There's nothing wrong with casting a wide net to inform potential voters of new rules, but all of this confusion was preventable.
Claims by Republicans that the law was needed to stop fraud at the polls have been debunked, yet questions persist just three months before a highly anticipated presidential election.
Every day, there are more arguments for overturning this bad law or, at a minimum, delaying implementation until the officials who will administer it and voters subject to it understand the rules.
Let's hope the court sees the law for what it is -- an underhanded attempt to keep certain voters from voting.
First Published August 2, 2012 12:00 am