Spanish billboards give voters the wrong ID-ea

Posted: October 24, 2012

A JUDGE RULED earlier this month that a state-approved voter ID was not needed to cast a ballot in the presidential race Nov. 6, but voter-rights advocates say state billboards about the law are confusing people.

Like the 10 ads placed in predominantly Hispanic communities with a photo of a woman holding up her driver's license. "Esta jornada electoral si la tienes muestrala," it reads in Spanish, which means: "This Election Day, if you have it, show it."

"It's causing confusion with voters and now a lot of anger in the Hispanic community," Juan Ramos, a former Philadelphia City Council member and head of the Delaware Valley Voter Registration Education Project, said at a news conference in City Hall on Monday. He said the billboards went up last week. "The state should emphasize that you don't need it to vote."

Ramos said that as recent as a few days ago, some radio stations were airing ads stating that voters needed a photo ID before they could cast their ballots.

Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson ruled this month that election officials can ask for identification in November but that voters are allowed to vote without it.

"There's a message that needs to get out and it needs to get out very widely . . . On Nov. 6, you do not need a voter ID to vote," said City Commission Chairwoman Stephanie Singer.

Ron Ruman, a spokesman for the Department of State, said that voters will have to show identification in elections after November and that the ads are to educate people. He said the ads, focused in urban areas, would not be removed.

"We wanted to make sure the word got out there," Ruman said. "There's a higher chance folks in urban areas might not have a driver's license."


Contact Jan Ransom at ransomj@phillynews.com or 215-854-5218.

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