The state Senate, along nearly partisan lines, passed a bill Wednesday that would make Pennsylvania the 16th state to require its residents to show photo identification at the polls. After more than four hours of debate, senators voted, 26-23, to approve the so-called voter ID bill. Its Republican sponsors contend it is needed to protect the integrity of elections. Democrats counter that it is nothing more than a partisan attempt to suppress their side’s votes in a presidential election year. The bill now heads for the House, which passed a stricter version last summer. If approved there – as is expected in that GOP-controlled chamber as early as next week – it would go to Gov. Corbett, who has said he supports the concept, and would take effect in time for the Nov. 6 election.
“This bill is a simple, commonsense measure to protect the integrity of the voting process, which is the very foundation of our democracy,” said Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware) as debate on the bill commenced Wednesday. One after another, Democratic senators rose to argue the exact opposite. Those senators, as well as the Pennsylvania chapter of the ACLU, said Wednesday night they would challenge the measure in court if it becomes law. Democrats contended the bill would disproportionately hurt the elderly, the poor and the disabled, who make up the lion’s share of voters who typically do not have photo IDs. Those groups also tend to vote Democratic.
Over the last year, Republican legislators in state after state have introduced similar voter ID bills – so many that the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks legislation nationwide, has called voter ID the hottest election-related topic. The push for such laws, Democrats contend, is part of a national effort to skew state and federal races in favor of Republicans. “I call you a hypocrite today if you vote for this bill,” State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (D., Phila.) said in Wednesday’s debate.
Full Article: Pa. Senate passes voter ID bill.