A requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls became law in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, the latest in a spate of Republican-led efforts to impose stricter controls at the ballot box. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed the act into law, saying it set a “simple and clear standard to protect the integrity of our elections. I am signing this bill because it protects a sacred principle, one shared by every citizen of this nation,” the Republican governor said. “That principle is one person, one vote.” Opponents, who say the measure seeks to suppress voter turnout, vowed to challenge it in court.
Pennsylvania joined several Republican-governed states, including Texas, Kansas and Wisconsin, that have adopted stricter voter identification laws, arguing they were needed to prevent ballot box fraud. Supporters say the laws are no different from needing identification to board an airplane or obtain a library card.
But some civil rights groups say such laws discriminate against the poor who may not be able to pay fees for copies of legal documents such as birth certificates, and that they could suppress minority votes. Democrats say voter identification measures are aimed at squeezing out university students and senior citizens who tend to vote for Democrats. Andy Hoover, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Pennsylvania branch, said there was no evidence of voter impersonation fraud in the state.