Pa. voter-ID bill awaits Guv's OK ...

Posted: March 13, 2012

HARRISBURG - Democrats ran into staunch Republican resistance yesterday in their attempts to stop a Pennsylvania House bill to require all voters to show certain photo identification before their ballot could be counted.

The bill, which would give Pennsylvania one of the nation's toughest voter-ID laws, was expected to pass today in the Republican-controlled House, the last step before it can go to the desk of Gov. Corbett, who plans to sign it.

Democrats have fought the bill, bitterly denouncing it as part of a wider GOP plot nationwide to suppress votes during an election year by traditional Democratic constituents, such as the poor, disabled or elderly, who may not have ID or may have difficulty getting ID.

"I think it is a surreptitious attempt to suppress the Democratic vote, using tax dollars," Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, told colleagues during debate yesterday. "It is wrong, it is insidious."

It passed the state Senate last week.

Democrats attempted to amend the bill in various ways yesterday, including trying to delay it from taking effect until 2013 or allowing Medicare enrollees to present their Medicare ID cards as valid identification. Republicans rejected the attempts, both in committee and on the House floor.

Also opposing the bill is the NAACP, AARP, labor unions, civil-liberties advocates, good-government groups and the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

Republicans point to the wide use of photo IDs for things like prescription drugs or boarding airplanes, and say that legitimate voters deserve to have their votes protected from being diluted by fraud, but Republicans are also hard-pressed to find examples of voter fraud.

Democrats argued that getting an ID involves hurdles. For instance, arranging the extra trips will be difficult for some people, they said, while getting a Pennsylvania state ID card requires showing a Social Security card, a birth certificate or certificate of residency, and two proofs of residency, such as a lease agreement, utility bill or a tax record.

Rep. Jennifer Mann, D-Allentown, said yesterday that her constituents seeking birth certificates have been told by state offices that they must wait four to five months.

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