Voter ID continues to be contentious
The Pennsylvania Department of State circulated a press release this week stating that most registered voters in Pennsylvania hold an acceptable form of identification that will be required to vote in the November election. The press release stated that “the vast majority of registered voters” had some form of ID that can be used to vote under the new voter ID law. Secretary Carol Aichele noted that those taken into account for were only voters with PennDOT IDs. The Department of State will be contacting anyone without a PennDOT ID number via letter this summer explaining the new law, the acceptable forms of identification and how to obtain a free ID.
By the Department of State’s numbers, “most voters” amounts to about 91% of registered voters; leaving approximately 9% of, or more than 758,000, registered voters without the proper identification. The Harrisburg Patriot News reports that previously the Department of State had believed that 99% of registered voters had the proper identification; that marks an 8% discrepancy. The Department notes that their latest number do not included voters who may have another form of acceptable identification; which include a passport, current military ID, student ID with an expiration date, or an ID card issued to a government employee. Of the 758,000 voters believed to not have proper ID, the Department says that over 167,000 of those are voters who have been deemed inactive—having not voted in the last five years. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that 18% of the registered voters in the city are without proper ID to vote.
A number of lawsuits have been filed over the new law and recently House Majority Leader, Mike Turzai (R—Allegheny) made some comments regarding the law that went viral. At a recent Republican State Committee Meeting, Rep. Turzai was listing some recent accomplishments of the Republican-controlled legislature when he remarked:
“Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
Democrats immediately seized on the comments, stating that the admission from Rep. Turzai was proof that Republicans only passed the law to further their own agenda and not to prevent voter fraud. Rep. Turzai’s office responded that his comments were meant to highlight the importance of voter fraud and level the playing field in the next election.
The Department of State and the county election boards plan to do everything within their power to reach out to voters with out proper ID prior to the November election. The new law is reported to be one of the toughest in the nation and there is a hearing on July 25 in Commonwealth Court to challenge the law. An appeal could reach the state supreme court before the November election takes place.
In other news
The House and Senate concluded the spring session last week after passing the budget. The Senate has released session days for the fall; the House has yet to announce their fall schedule. The Senate has only 9 days listed for the upcoming session.
2012 SENATE FALL SESSION SCHEDULE
September 24, 25
October 1, 2, 3, 15, 16, 17
November 14 (Leadership Elections)