A statistics expert defended his estimate that “hundreds of thousands” of Pennsylvania voters lack the photo identification they need to vote under a temporarily suspended state law, which is has its constitutionality on trial in a state court. Philadelphia consultant Bernard Siskin, hired by the plaintiffs who sued over the March 2012 law, described in detail his research based on a comparison of people on the Pennsylvania Department of State’s statewide voter-registration database and a similar database maintained by PennDOT, which issues state driver’s licenses and two other IDs acceptable under the law. That analysis showed that, as of this spring, about 511,000 registered voters either lacked one of the PennDOT-issued IDs or have IDs that have expired or will expire before the Nov. 5 election.
Siskin’s testimony bolsters the plaintiffs’ central claim in the state commonwealth court trial that the law, one of the strictest in the nation, cannot be implemented without disenfranchising a large segment of Pennsylvania’s 8.2 million voters.
But the state’s statistics expert, William Wecker, has criticized Siskin’s research in confidential court papers, excerpts from which the plaintiffs’ attorney displayed on a large video screen. Wecker said Siskin’s analysis exaggerates the problem by ignoring the fact many voters have other acceptable IDs that are available outside of PennDOT, such as IDs from many universities or the armed forces. He also has said the research includes voters who don’t require IDs because they vote by absentee ballots.