On a near-party line vote, the state House of Representatives approved a Republican-backed bill late Thursday night that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls. The bill now moves to the Republican-controlled state Senate for consideration.
The 108-88 vote saw all but one Republican who was present vote in favor of House Bill 934. All 87 Democrats present for the vote voted against the measure. Rep. Chris Ross, R-Unionville, was the lone dissenting Republican.
Some Democratic representatives serving portions of Luzerne County blasted the partisan vote and called the bill unnecessary. “This is a solution in search of a problem,” said Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre. He noted that since 2004, 20 million votes have been cast in Pennsylvania and six people have been arrested for voter fraud.
“That’s negligible and certainly not enough to spend millions of dollars and disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters,” he said.
“When we should be doing all we can to encourage Pennsylvanians to get out to the polls to vote, this bill will do just the opposite,” said Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich, D-Taylor. “We just don’t have evidence of widespread voter fraud in the commonwealth that we should be making it more difficult for people to cast their ballots.”
… Kavulich said that while some people may be unable to cast a fraudulent ballot, thousands more registered and eligible voters will find it more difficult.
And the costs associated with the bill – up to an additional $11 million, according to The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center – also came under fire from Democratic Party officials and a local political science professor.
“At a time when we need to focus on creating jobs and getting the economy back on track, the Pennsylvania House Republicans have spent significant time trying to disenfranchise voters at a cost of $11 million to taxpayers,” said state Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn.
King’s College professor David Sosar said he does not believe voter fraud is such a problem in the state that this bill was necessary.
“There are already so many checks and balances. … It’s a nice thing to have, but you don’t need to be spending this level of money considering the type of economy we’re in,” Sosar said. He said he was surprised the Republicans, which are always touting budget cutting and reduced spending, would push so hard for a bill that costs money.