Wednesday, July 17, 2013

PA Voter ID on Trial

Yesterday, opening arguments were held in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court over the state’s seemingly reasonable requirement that all voters in this key swing state provide photo I.D. when voting.

Additionally as Nils, Hagen-Frederiksen, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office of General Counsel.

“Voter I.D. is constitutional…..the trial is about the implementation,” he says. “Right now, in Pennsylvania, any eligible voter that needs an I.D. can get an I.D. free of charge.”

This law is clearly reasonable and has “technically” been in place for the last three elections but has not yet been enforced because of temporary injunctions.

In detailed report issued in July of last year, Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt found “hundreds of cases of voting irregularities” during the 2012 Primary election in that city, such as “voting by non-registered individuals, voting by individuals in the incorrect party’s primary, voter impersonation, voting by non-U.S. citizens,” and “voting more than once.”

The state of Pennsylvania is confident that “the law will stand up in court,” and points out that people can get an I.D. at any one of 71 offices throughout the state. In some cases, people don’t even need to provide any documents…or any written proof of who they claim they are, such as a utility bill, to get one.

“You don’t have to show anything, all you have to do is show up,” says Hagen-Frederiksen.

“The constitutional issue here is, is it a disproportionally unfair burden on a particular group or class of people? The photo I.D.’s are available to everyone, the centers are available to everyone.”

About 8.2 million voters are registered in the state, and estimates claimed that roughly 759,000 residents lacked a photo I.D. Fewer than 20,000 are reported to have obtained one.

The Pennsylvania legislature passed the law and Governor Tom Corbett signed it in March 2012. A lawsuit was filed in May and after a hearing in July, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson (R) refused to issue an injunction. The state Supreme Court reviewed the case and sent it back to Simpson with restrictions. Finally, Simpson said pollsters could ask voters for an ID, but could not stop anyone from voting if they did not provide one.

Judge Bernard L. McGinley is expected to issue his ruling in a few weeks, but whatever he decides is expected to be appealed by the losing side to the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court. Hopefully, this reasonable law to ensure the integrity of elections is in place and enforced by the time elections come around in November.

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