It is ironic that in an era when certain elected officials rail against unfunded mandates, government waste and the lack of citizen participation in the civic life of the country, those same officials are spending their taxpayer-funded resources on wasteful, ineffective voter photo ID legislation. Every three or four years, voter photo ID legislation such as Pennsylvania House Bill 934 — introduced by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe — makes its way to the forefront of the legislative agenda, moving to the top of the queue over bills that could help taxpayers save money, create jobs or even improve schools. HB 934 offers to misuse dollars from the federal Help America Vote Act intended to remove barriers to voting for the explicit purpose of making it harder for Pennsylvanians without a photo ID to vote. The bill also calls for the waste of at least $4.3 million from the Motor License Fund.
HB 934 wrongly assumes there will be no cost to Pennsylvania counties, who manage local elections through county boards, claiming the PA Department of State will be responsible for ensuring the voter photo ID program is promoted and implemented without a hitch.
The idea that counties would not have to spend to ensure their eligible voters were not being left behind by the state defies logic. County Boards of Election are ultimately responsible for the management of elections and take their responsibility to the eligible voter population seriously. Counties would certainly need to reallocate dollars currently used for the proper management of elections to pay for an ongoing campaign to educate eligible voters and help them with the process of attaining the newly mandated IDs. This means money spent on additional staff, staff training, postage, printing and marketing materials — money that should be going to improving elections and removing barriers for voters, not raising them. The $4.3 million estimate provided by supporters of HB 934 is grossly inaccurate.