After several amendments were passed through committee, the state Senate did not consider the Voter ID bill yesterday. This means the Legislature will not be able to consider the bill until January, since they’re set to go on their long vacations this week.
The bill, as we detailed yesterday, was originally written to require a government-issued ID at the polls. It was amended to allow nursing home, college and some expired IDs. However, critics say these changes are moot and, once enacted, this legislation will still disenfranchise poor, minority and elderly voters, who often do not have ID.
The bill is opposed by several local and state groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the Committee of Seventy. In an email blast yesterday, Seventy wrote, “The non-partisan Committee of Seventy opposes this voter ID bill. It especially hurts minority, low-income and senior voters who are more likely to lack an acceptable ID. There has been no evidence of rampant voter fraud that mandating a voter ID would prevent. Why insist on only photo IDs issued by the government?
“[W]hat about PA residents who go to out-of-state colleges, but still care enough to want to vote here? What about seniors who still live at home? Or others who don’t have drivers’ licenses or passports? Will they take the trouble to get a photo ID just to vote, even if it’s offered for free? Voter turnout is low enough already. Why make it harder?”
The ACLU’s Andy Hoover told PA Independent the changes made to the bill were “marginal” and, “The bottom line is that this will prevent some people who are legally allowed to vote from doing so.”
Voter ID legislation is not unique to Pennsylvania. Since the 2010 elections, in which Republicans took many state legislatures and governorships, several states have been attempting to enact this and other voter disenfranchisement laws. Republican lawmakers have taken up this cause, writes Think Progress, “because these laws also disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters in demographics that tend to support Democrats.”