House debates requiring voters to show photo ID

Posted: June 21, 2011

HARRISBURG - The state House began debate Monday on a divisive bill that would require Pennsylvania voters to show photo identification every time they cast a ballot.

The bill - one of many similar measures being advanced in GOP-controlled legislatures nationwide - could receive a final vote this week.

Sponsor Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler) said the bill was needed to ensure tougher voter controls and protect the integrity of Pennsylvania's elections.

"Every illegally counted ballot cancels out the vote of a legitimate voter," Metcalfe said. "Photo IDs currently are needed to board a plane, enter federal buildings, and cash a check. Voting is equally important."

Democrats slammed the bill during 21/2 hours of debate, calling it a political move by Republicans to disenfranchise poor and elderly voters.

"There is no evidence that voter impersonation occurs in our state, but there is evidence that these kinds of bills suppress voter turnout," said Rep. Babette Josephs (D., Phila.).

Of nearly six million people who voted in Pennsylvania in the last presidential election, four were charged with voter fraud, according to the state.

Thirteen states require photo identification, while 16 others require non-photo ID.

In 2006, Gov. Ed Rendell vetoed a similar bill.

The House will continue debate Tuesday on 25 amendments, filed mostly by Democrats, trying to limit the number of voters who would be required to show an ID.

Contact John Manganaro at 412-335-9281.

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