Pennsylvania House backs photo-ID bill for voters

Posted: June 24, 2011

HARRISBURG - A bill that would require Pennsylvanians to show photo identification at the polls cleared the House on Thursday after nearly 10 hours of partisan debate over three days.

The 108-88 vote sent the measure to the Senate.

The bill would require most voters to show photo ID before casting a ballot in any election. Residents now have to show ID only the first time they go to the polls.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler), the sponsor, said the measure was necessary to cut down on "significant voter fraud plaguing Pennsylvania's elections."

Democrats unsuccessfully challenged the bill's constitutionality several times during floor debate. They warned that the legislation would cost tens of millions of dollars to address a problem that did not exist and would likely disfranchise thousands of eligible voters.

Senate Republican spokesman Erik Arneson said many in the majority caucus were interested in passing voter-ID legislation, though he could not say how soon the Metcalfe bill could come up.

House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D., Allegheny) said during a pause in the action: "We can't speculate about the motivations of our colleagues across the aisle during debate, but we believe this is a frank attempt to suppress Democratic voter turnout."

Rep. Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster) challenged that assessment, calling the bill "a move to ensure the constitutional guarantee of one person, one vote."

The bill includes exceptions for voters with religious convictions against being photographed and for people living in nursing homes or care facilities that serve as their polling place.


Contact staff writer John Manganaro at 412-335-9281.

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