Pa. House passes voter ID bill - 6at4

April 23, 2012 8:40:51 AM PDT
Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign one of the nation's toughest voter identification laws less than eight months before the presidential election, although a court challenge is also expected to the measure that handily passed the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The 104-88 vote came after three days of debate and accusations by Democrats that the bill is a Jim Crow-style attempt to discriminate against minorities and that no trail of voter fraud exists to justify making it more difficult for the elderly, disabled and poor to vote.

The GOP-controlled state Senate approved the measure last week, and Corbett, a Republican, has said he will sign it.

The bill would require voters to show certain photo identification before their votes could be counted beginning with this year's presidential election, prompting Democrats to accuse Republicans of trying to stop traditional Democratic-leaning voters - minorities, college students and the poor - from getting their ballots counted.

Republicans say the requirement is a common-sense step to prevent fraudulent double voting, voting by illegal immigrants, voter impersonation and fictitious voters. They also say that showing photo ID is a widely accepted function in daily American society. Voter ID has been a hot topic, with a number of Republican-controlled legislatures around the country passing such measures.

Democratic lawmakers and the American Civil Liberties Union have pledged to challenge the measure in court, once it becomes law.

The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania says systems are already in place to prevent duplicate or erroneous registration. It also warned lawmakers that adding the additional step of requiring poll workers to check photo IDs will lengthen Election Day lines at polling places and create voter confusion, but provide no extra security for ballots.

Many government employee photo IDs would be acceptable, as would student IDs from colleges and universities in Pennsylvania and IDs for people who live in elder-care institutions in the state, as long as they show a name, photo and expiration date that makes them current.

Someone without proper ID would be able to cast a provisional ballot, then would have six days to get an acceptable ID and deliver a copy to county election offices in person, by email or fax.

In response to any suggestion that a photo ID requirement amounts to an unconstitutional "poll tax," supporters of the bill note that it also will require the Department of Transportation to issue an identification card at no cost to anyone who applies and swears that he or she has no other proof of identification allowed under the law for voting purposes.

But Democrats say getting a photo ID requires obtaining other documents, such as a passport or birth certificate, which cost money to get and can take months to receive from the state.

MORE INFO:

Details on a bill signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Tom Corbett to require voters to show photo identification.

CURRENT LAW

A person voting for the first time in a given precinct must show ID.

The acceptable forms of ID are:

- Pennsylvania driver's license or PennDOT ID card

- ID issued by any state agency or the U.S. government

- U.S. passport or armed forces ID

- Student ID

- Employee ID

- Non-photo ID issued by the state government or U.S. government

- Firearms permit

- Current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government check

HOUSE BILL 934

A person voting must show ID. The acceptable forms of ID must be current, show the individual's name, photograph, expiration date and be issued by:

- The U.S. government, state government or a municipal or county government in Pennsylvania

- PennDOT

- An accredited public or private institution of higher learning in Pennsylvania

- A nursing home, assisted living home or personal care home in Pennsylvania

Exceptions include:

- Non-photo driver's license or ID cards issued by PennDOT for voters who have a religious objection to being photographed

- A PennDOT ID expired within the past year

- U.S. armed forces IDs that show an indefinite expiration date

- Absentee-ballot voters, who may provide their driver's license number or, if they do not have a license, the last four digits of their Social Security number

People without proper ID may:

- Cast a provisional ballot on election day and within six days submit a valid photo identification to county elections officials in person or by e-mail or fax

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Source: Pennsylvania Department of State, Pennsylvania Senate, House Bill 934

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Online:

House Bill 934: http://bit.ly/wZos6U

House Bill 934 roll call: http://bit.ly/zqDPsk


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