Pennsylvania Voter ID Bill Close to Becoming a Reality

vote imageThe Pennsylvania state Senate Appropriations Committee passed the state’s Voter ID bill by a 15-11 vote yesterday. The Republican majority in the committee provided the 15 votes for the measure. One Republican, Sen. Mary Jo White of Vebabgo County, joined the 10 Democrats against.

The bill, which would require voters to bring identification to polling places, is now up for consideration on the Senate floor. If and when it gets to Gov. Tom Corbett’s desk, he’s expected to sign it into law.

Democrats and others against the bill have called it a solution without a problem. There have been very few incidents of voter fraud in the United States.

“We’re trying to fix a problem that simply does not exist,” said state Sen. John Wozniak of Cambria County.

Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia railed against the bill, as well. “Here in Pennsylvania, since 2004 we’ve cast 20 million votes and had four convictions of fraud,” he said. “This is a solution searching for a problem, here.” A report by the U.S. Department of Justice stated that between 2002 and 2007 there have been only 86 documented cases of voter ID fraud—nationwide.

Local groups like Project H.O.M.E. and the Committee of Seventy have argued against the bill, saying it disenfranchises voters. It’s minority and elderly voters who will be most affected by the legislation, as they, more often than whites, do not have photo ID. The NAACP has called the proposal racist, and vows to take it to court if enacted. Equality Pennsylvania has been urging a backlash to the bill in the LGBT community, too.

“This will particularly affect non-drivers (senior citizens who no longer drive, persons with disabilities, and residents of urban communities who travel by public transit) and could be especially restrictive to members of the Transgender community,” Equality PA wrote in a recently email. “Also recognize that the challenge of securing a non-driver photo ID card from PennDOT will be costly, difficult, and, for some, impossible.”

Project H.O.M.E. has called the bill the “Voter Suppression Bill” and recently wrote the bill “will particularly affect non-drivers (senior citizens who no longer drive, persons with disabilities, and residents of urban communities who travel by public transit), and the challenge of securing a non-driver photo ID card from PennDOT will be costly, difficult, and impossible for some.”

Those in favor of the bill note that having identification is required for many other things. So it might as well be required for voting.

A similar version of the bill was passed by the House in June. If this version passes in the Senate, the bill would need a final ratification before heading to Corbett’s desk.

UPDATE (3/7): This bill has been debated all day by the state Senate, and things aren’t looking good for opponents of Voter ID. We will have a new blog up when it’s over.

7 Responses to “ Pennsylvania Voter ID Bill Close to Becoming a Reality ”

  1. I am spearheading the Cost of Freedom Project, a citizen-led initiative that is developing location-based apps to provide voters with information on how to get a voter ID. The Cost of Freedom App will cut through the confusion and help minimize the number of voters who give up in frustration.

    The project stems from the Random Hacks of Kindness hackathon at Drexel. In December, the story was ordinary citizens in the birthplace of our democracy came together to help their fellow Americans exercise the right to vote. If the voter suppression by voter ID bill passes, we’ll also be helping ourselves.

    To get involved, please visit us at

  2. [...] Capitolwire (Paywall): Education Pension Increases Outpace State Funding Cuts In Corbett Bidgets Philadelphia Weekly: Pennsylvania voter ID law close to becoming a reality CBS 3: AAA, Pennsylvania officials put new [...]

  3. Philly RN says:

    I don’t know how the writer missed that Pew revealed that several million dead people are still registered to vote in the US.

    1.8 million dead people are registered to vote in the US. That alone is reason enough for modernizing voting to the level buying alcohol or having a credit card purchase ID check. People in society need photo IDs. It’s unavoidable, and helping them to avoid that is not helping them.

    Here’s the article:

    Why are just the Democrats in Philly so opposed to this bill? I find that very curious in a city where low prosecutions don’t mean there is no crime.

  4. Philly RN says:

    Why not have cleaner elections in Philly? Why are Democrats opposed to this, who claim GOP corruption, but the GOP for it?

    What really are the Democrats in Philly afraid of? It defies logic.

    Time to drag the Philly Democrats kicking and screaming into the modern age.

  5. Philly RN says:

    I totally support Faye Anderson’s effort to help people get a photo ID to vote. That is the right approach for advocates, because a photo ID will empower people to participate in modern society, not only in voting.

    A photo ID is critical to living and thriving in Philly. You can’t manage well without one. You can’t open a bank account. You can’t get a mortgage. You can’t get a job.

    People are not able to participate in bettering themselves without a photo ID. The truly compassionate approach is to support Voter ID, then help them get that photo ID. That’s what the NAACP should be doing.

    Why are “advocates” fighting to keep people in a backwards state?

  6. Lex says:

    If obtaining an ID wasn’t so costly and time consuming I wouldn’t have an issue with it but it is both. $13.50 for an ID isn’t too bad compaired to other states but that’s $13.50 I would have preferred to feed myself with. If you have no income it’s a lot of money.

    It’s also not that hard to go without an ID in Philly as long as you have your proper documents you can obtain a job and rent. Requiring people to have a photo ID for voting is ridiculous and unessisary. Unless you want to make obtaining on free and not take three hours at a DMV, that’s time and money a lot of people DO NOT have.

  7. Victoria Lamb, MSHA says:

    Newsmax is hardly a credible news source, for goodness sake. As for Democrats having to be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern age, that is just ridiculous. Democrats object to the ALEC-originated voter ID laws because they target the elderly, college students, and minorities by making access to the state-mandated ID difficult for them. Why these groups? Because the elderly and city dwellers who can’t afford cars often don’t have driver’s licenses, and college students often don’t have photos on their college-issued IDs. The state governments who institute these laws have the power (and have already done it in Wisconsin) to selectively close DMVs in specific areas, where the greatest concentrations of students, the elderly, and the poor are concentrated.In other words they can manipulate access to make it harder for those groups they don’t want at the polls to acquire the neccessary documentation.

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