Gov. Tom Corbett put another nail in the coffin of Pennsylvania’s voter identification law on Thursday, announcing he would not appeal a judge’s decision that the law violated the fundamental right to vote. The Republican governor issued a statement that defended the law, but he also said it needed changes and that he hoped to work with the Legislature on them. “It is clear that the requirement of photo identification is constitutionally permissible,” he said. “However, the court also made clear that in order for a voter identification law to be found constitutional, changes must be made to address accessibility to photo identifications.” The centerpiece of the law — a requirement that nearly all of the state’s 8.2 million voters show photo ID at the polls — was declared unconstitutional in January by a Commonwealth Court judge who said it imposed an unreasonable burden on the right to vote and that supporters had failed to demonstrate a need for it.
South Carolina: Survey notes accessibility problems for Richland Co. voters with disabilities | The State
When Richland County voter Dori Tempio went to cast her ballot in November’s library referendum, a poll worker held the voting machine on her lap. She asked for privacy. He turned his head. “The person could see what I was voting,” said Tempio, 43, who uses a wheelchair. “Other people walking by could see what I was voting. … That makes you somewhat uncomfortable.” Tempio said she considers voting to be a sacred right; she has voted in every election since she turned 18. But a survey of Richland County precincts by Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc., found many residents with disabilities faced barriers when trying to exercise their right to vote Nov. 5. The survey identified a lack of accessible ballots as the top issue, affecting 63 percent of Richland County precincts.
You’ve probably read about the problems that many voters — especially older voters — have encountered under voter ID laws, many of which are relatively new. (There was the recent case, for example, of former House Speaker Jim Wright being turned away because, at 90, he didn’t have a valid driver’s license.) Among those who may have to make long trips to government offices to obtain voter ID cards are people without driver’s licenses (which, like Wright, many older Americans may no longer have), student or employee ID cards (which older Americans likely may not have had for years), or — in the curious case of Virginia — a handgun permit (I guess maybe some older Americans have those). Think about it: Every citizen (with the exception of convicted felons) has the right to vote. When voter ID requirements make it difficult to exercise that right, chaos may follow.
Speakers at a legislative hearing criticized a bill backed by Secretary of State Matt Schultz that would require voters to show photo identification at polling places. Schultz has filed identical bills in the House and Senate, and Tuesday’s House hearing was the first time this session lawmakers have taken testimony on the proposal. Members of the Iowa League of Women Voters told lawmakers that a photo ID requirement would disenfranchise voters who don’t have required documents. They also say the rules could slow vote-counting.
Old age and associated complications such as loss of mobility will affect almost all of us. But they shouldn’t block our most basic democratic right – the right to vote — said Lindi Kirkbride of AARP Wyoming. Kirkbride is especially concerned for senior citizens, but all Wyomingites in general, if Senate File 134 become law and residents are forced to show picture identification at polling places. “The scenario is it’s a terribly nasty day,” Kirkbride said. “Someone in a walker wants to go vote. The poll checkers are there and they’re trying to determine, ‘Oh, yours is expired. You can’t vote because your license is expired, sorry.’ It’s going to cause these big lines.” The bill won’t become law this year. But next year could be different.
Minnesota: A recap of the Supreme Court argument over the voter ID amendment, and why it matters | MinnPost
I grew up with an eye on Minnesota politics and spent summers interning at the state capitol watching the floor debates on TV; but on July 17th in Saint Paul I had a front row seat. The Minnesota Supreme court heard a challenge to a proposed constitutional amendment that would require valid, state-issued photo identification for voting in Minnesota, and I was courtside. The room was abuzz and the Justices were beyond well-prepared. The lawyers on both sides had barely introduced their arguments when the storm of questions rained down from the bench and struck to the core of the issue. It was intimidating. At trial was whether the amendment question, as it is being put to the voters, is misleading. The lawsuit, brought by the League of Women voters and a coalition including Jewish Community Action (where I am on staff as an organizer), was argued by Bill Pentalovich and a team from Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand. The last case that I heard Bill Pentalovich argue was a mock trial of Abraham held at Adath Jeshurun’s Shabbat Morning Program when I was a bar mitzvah student. Abe didn’t stand a chance. To bring down photo ID, the team from Maslon argued that the discrepancy between the ballot question and the actual amendment is deceptive and should be struck from the ballot. The short ballot question does not accurately reflect the drastic impact that the amendment will have on our voting system.
A dramatic protest from a group of Minnesota seniors Wednesday: They cut up their AARP cards, upset because AARP is opposing the Voter ID amendment on the ballot this fall. Minnesota seniors make up the largest single voting block on Election Day. Polling data seems to show a majority of Minnesotans support the idea of showing ID when they vote. But AARP, the state’s largest senior advocacy group, says the amendment could stop thousands of the elderly from voting. So, in a show of protest and defiance, conservative seniors cut up their AARP cards. They are calling the state’s biggest advocate for the elderly out of touch with its members, whom they say support Voter ID.
A number of organizations are saying a series of bills designed to close loopholes and prevent voter fraud will interfere with the right to vote. State Senate Bills 751 and 754 call for new photo identification requirements for voter registration and absentee voting. SB 754 also regulates groups that register people to vote. SB 751 requires voters to show photo identification to obtain an absentee ballot. Currently, a range of documents are accepted as proof of identify and residency, such as a Social Security card, paystubs, utility bills and bank statements. The laws are part of a package of bills called Secure and Fair Elections initiative designed to strengthen campaign finance laws, create new policies and the expand the use of technology.
Republicans pressed ahead Monday with a bill to require voters in the state to show certain photo identifications before their votes can be counted, lengthening the list of acceptable IDs and scheduling the bill for a final floor vote later this week. The bill would make Pennsylvania the 16th state to require a voter to show photo ID, and the concept has support from the Republican-controlled House and Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.
But Democrats intensely oppose it, as do the AARP, labor unions, civil liberties advocates and the NAACP, and accused Republicans of working to suppress the votes of the elderly, minorities, the poor and the disabled ahead of a presidential election. Republicans pointed to the wide use of photo IDs for things like prescription drugs or boarding airplanes and public polls that support such a requirement.
The AARP is sending a warning to state lawmakers about legislation requiring people show a photo ID to vote. If passed, they say it could a mean a lot of seniors will choose to stay home instead. The bill in question has passed the House of Delegates, and is now on to the Senate. But the AARP says as many as 18 percent of all people over the age of 65 don’t have an ID. Republican Delegate Mark Cole is pushing the legislation to make sure there are no fraudulent voters. “There’s no way to get that fraudulent vote back,” he said. But critics of his House Bill 9, which would require a photo ID to vote, say there’s just one problem – voter fraud, like Cole is worried about, has not happened in Virginia. In addition, David Debiasi with Virginia’s AARP says a disproportionate number of elderly people don’t have a photo ID.
If Tennessee absolutely must have a law requiring voters to produce photo identification, the state Election Commission is absolutely right to conduct an education campaign to make voters aware of the law.
The law was passed by Republican majorities in both houses of the Legislature last spring, despite warnings about its questionable constitutionality. The law becomes effective in January 2012, so it will not pose an obstacle for the 2011 city of Knoxville and state Senate elections, for which early voting has begun.
The law was touted by supporters as a check on voter fraud, an argument that made it to the U.S. Senate on Thursday. However, Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and chairman of the Senate’s subcommittee on civil rights, said the incidence of voter fraud is minimal and doesn’t require this remedy, according to a story on Tennessean.com.
New Hampshire: Clerks association calls on Senate to sustain veto of ‘Voter ID’ bill | SeacoastOnline.com
A bill that would require people to produce government-issued photo ID to vote in the state of New Hampshire is close to dead and several groups spent the last week lobbying state lawmakers to ensure it remains that way. The state Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to override Gov. John Lynch’s veto of Senate Bill 129, the so-called Voter ID Bill.
The League of Women Voters, American Association of Retired Persons and New Hampshire City and Town Clerks Association joined forces to voice objections to the bill calling on senators to sustain the veto. All three groups held a press conference on Wednesday.
Lynch vetoed the bill in June, saying it creates a real risk that voters would be denied their right to vote, adding the state has consistently high voter turnout, no voter fraud problem and strong election laws in place.