Voting in Pennsylvania’s April 24 primary and in the Nov. 6 presidential election just got complicated, thanks to Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law. Gov. Tom Corbett signed the bill into law Wednesday, after the House followed the Senate, both controlled by Republicans, and approved the bill 104-88. Three Republican senators had voted against the bill on March 8: Sen. Jane Earll of Fairview, Sen. Mary Jo White of Franklin and Sen. Stewart Greenleaf of suburban Philadelphia. As with most political issues today, the rhetoric is heated about whether voter fraud is a legitimate, widespread worry and whether strict new ID requirements will discourage citizens from exercising their right to vote.
In Pennsylvania, first-time voters and voters who change districts already had to show identification, but you could use a bank statement, paycheck or utility bill to prove your identity. Now you need a photo ID. Headlines on two news releases show the ideological divide. “Pa House sends voter disenfranchisement bill to governor,” said the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. “Tea party group praises Governor Corbett for signing voter ID bill; pushes for similar legislation in New Jersey,” said the Independence Hall Tea Party in Philadelphia.
Liberals say voter identification laws will discourage those who voted in high numbers for President Obama in 2008 — minorities, the poor, the elderly — from going to the polls in November. Conservatives contend that such laws are needed because of reports that the community organizing group ACORN (now disbanded) paid to sign up voters and registered voters under false names in 2008.