Voter ID bill limits basic right, opponents say

March 5, 2012 12:56 pm

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Opponents of a bill to require voters to show photo identification said this morning the measure would disenfranchise voters who are elderly, poor or minorities.

Hours before a Senate panel was scheduled to consider the proposal, state leaders of the AARP, the NAACP, the SEIU and the AFL-CIO urged lawmakers to defeat the bill. They unfurled a petition with 13,000 signatures down the steps of the Capitol toward 2nd Street and said they would deliver district-by-district petitions with at least 100 signatures to every senator.

Speakers said the effort to require photo identification at the polls is intended not to reduce voter fraud but to make it harder for certain groups of people to vote.

"It has nothing to do with voter fraud," said Richard Bloomingdale, president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO. "This is about trying to get failed ideas past the Legislature by keeping people from voting."

J. Whyatt Mondesire, president of the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference, called the bill racist and said his organization is prepared to challenge a photo identification law in court.

The bill would require all voters to show photo identification, where currently first-time voters must show identification with their name and address. The bill would also mandate that workers at polling sites for primary elections ask for photo identification, though people without identification could still vote.

The bill passed the House last year before a Senate committee amended it to allow the use of identification cards issued by universities and nursing homes.

The law would take full effect for the November general election.

Karen Langley: klangley@post-gazette.com or 717-787-2141.
First Published 2012-03-05 11:54:20

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