Conflicting estimates of how many Pennsylvania voters lack the required voter photo identification under a new state law are spurring debate about whether enough money is budgeted to implement it. The law requires voters to provide one of a half-dozen legally specified forms of photo ID when they go to the polls Nov. 6. The state budget for fiscal 2012-13 enacted June 30 provides $1 million to help the state Department of Transportation provide free nondriver photo ID cards to those requesting them. The Department of State has $5 million in federal funds through the Help America Vote Act for media advertising, mailings and phone calls for voter education and outreach, said agency spokesman Ron Ruman. State officials don’t see a need for budgeting more money at this stage while the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and Democratic lawmakers who uniformly voted against the law think the amounts are inadequate. The $1 million sum reflects analyses of the law’s fiscal impact by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees when it was enacted in March. The analyses cite assumptions that fewer than 1 percent of registered voters didn’t have a PennDOT ID card. The cost of producing a card is estimated at $13.50. “We pretty well knew from the beginning that the fiscal note lowballed what it was going to cost to provide free ID to people,” said Bonita Hoke, League executive director. “There is just not enough funding allocated for this.”
Since the budget took effect, the state Department of State said an estimated 750,000, or 9 percent, of registered voters didn’t match up on official records as having a PennDOT driver’s license. An undetermined number of voters may fall in that category due to variations of names on voter registration documents and driver’s licenses. The law allows voters to present any of the specified IDs with a name that “substantially conforms” to the name appearing on a voter register. Higher estimates of voters without proper voter ID were offered during a seven-day hearing in Commonwealth Court on a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups seeking an injunction to block the law’s implementation. A judge is expected to rule on the matter next week.
Matt Barreto, a University of Washington professor representing the plaintiffs, testified that more than 1 million registered voters, or 14 percent, lack the proper ID. Meanwhile, Department of State officials have recently announced several new steps regarding the law’s implementation, including issuing a special department photo ID card for voting purposes only, mailing of letters to the group of 750,000 advising them of the need for proper ID and preparing a voter ID law manual to 60,000 poll workers.
Full Article: Size of voter ID budget debated – News – The Times-Tribune.