Three-quarters of a million Pennsylvanians may be denied a chance to vote in November unless they can come up with an acceptable form of identification, a tally released by the state suggests. In a move lawmakers said would deter fraud at the polls, the Republican-led Legislature passed a law in March requiring voters to have a photo ID to obtain a ballot. A comparison of registration lists and state Transportation Department records showed 758,939 people don’t have either a driver’s license or an alternative state ID, the secretary of the commonwealth said.
Backed by Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican, the law was enacted as similar measures in Republican-led states drew criticism from Democrats who say they disenfranchise minority, poor and young voters. Those groups have tended to support Democrats. A voter ID law in Texas has been blocked by the U.S. Justice Department, while in Florida, which also has a photo ID requirement, federal officials have sued to halt state attempts to bar non-citizens from voting.
“There is a real risk that poor people and minority voters, among others, will be discouraged from participating,” said Daniel Tokaji, who teaches at Ohio State University’s law school in Columbus and helps direct its election-law center. “These laws are likely to have a greater impact on Democratic- leaning groups of voters. It’s pretty obvious that’s why Democrats oppose these laws, and Republicans support them.”