Poll says voters support Pennsylvania's voter ID law

Posted: September 17, 2012

Nearly two-thirds of likely Pennsylvania voters support the state's new law requiring official photo ID to vote, according to the Inquirer Pennsylvania Poll, but behind the overall numbers lie sharp divisions.

The Inquirer poll found that registered Republicans overwhelmingly support the voter ID requirements, 85 percent to 12 percent (with 3 percent undecided), according to the poll results.

Registered Democrats oppose it, 51-46 percent.

White voters support voter ID, 69-29. But black voters are against it, 65-31.

The numbers also skew by region, from the Philadelphia area, where 53 percent support the law and 45 percent are opposed, to the Pittsburgh media market, where 73 percent support the voter ID law, with 23 percent opposed.

The overall support for the law tracks national sentiment, as does the partisan split on the issue.

Out of 600 people contacted for The Inquirer's survey, 94 percent said it would not be difficult for them to obtain the necessary ID to vote. Three percent reported it would be "somewhat difficult," 2 percent "very difficult," and 1 percent said they did not know or declined to answer.

"I think it will keep the voting system honest, or at least, give some credibility to it," said Lynn Mahoney, 51, a Republican who lives in Garnet Valley, Delaware County, and works as a deputy county sheriff. She said she had heard news reports about deceased people voting or other irregularities. "It may still happen, but I think some of it will be alleviated."

Mahoney says she expects to use her driver's license as a photo ID and anticipates no problems at the polls. She said that local governments and civic groups "have to be vigilant" about senior citizens and others who may require help getting to a PennDot office to secure the photo IDs they need.

Barbara Forman, 69, a registered Democrat and retired chemistry professor in Huntingdon Valley, Montgomery County, described the new law as "a voter suppression engine," comparable to the poll taxes that used to hold down minority votes in the Deep South. "It's absolutely vicious and not playing fair," she said.

Forman said she also intends to use her driver's license as ID in November but has no idea if the name is an exact match with her voter registration. "I'm not planning to do anything about it now. I'll just fight with them [at the polling place] if I have to," she said.

Victor Stevens, 75, of Quakertown, a registered Republican who said he switches parties depending on primary election matchups, said he had no problem with establishing a photo ID requirement but felt the state should have provided a few years to get the program off the ground.

"It's an unfair thing to request of people in just a short time," Stevens said. "The older people who don't drive anymore just don't have it."

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday heard oral arguments on an appeal to block the Pennsylvania law, but the court did not indicate when it would rule.

Contact Bob Warner

at 215-854-5885 or warnerb@phillynews.com.

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