The Pennsylvania State Senate passed a controversial bill today requiring voters to present photo identification when they cast their ballots. The final vote was 26-23.
“The Pennsylvania Senate took an important step to promote the integrity of our electoral process by passing critical Voter ID legislation. The bottom line is that voter ID is a commonsense reform that strengthens a fundamental pillar of our democracy by ensuring that every single vote that is legally cast, legally counts,” PAGOP Chairman Rob Gleason said in a statement after passage of the bill.
The State House approved their own version of a voter ID bill over the summer. The Senate’s version of the Republican bill would need to be passed again by the House before it could go to Gov. Tom Corbett’s desk for a signature. He has previously expressed support of a voter ID bill, and the House will likely vote on the bill very soon.
Supporters of the bill feel it would help protect against voter fraud and preserve election integrity. Those who have come out against the bill feel that it would discourage certain groups from voting, such as minorities, the disabled, and the elderly. Additionally, they feel that there is no evidence of the “voter impersonation” that the bill is attempting to decrease. Opponents of the voter ID bill include Democrats, AARP, NAACP, and civil liberties supporters. The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania also opposes the bill, saying that it would create much longer lines on Election Day.
If signed by Corbett, there would be a trial run for the April 24th primary, when voters would be asked to provide photo ID but not turned away if they could not provide it. Officials hope to have it fully implemented in time for the November general election. Fifteen other states currently require voter ID at the polls, and similar legislation is pending in many other states.
Many people have vocalized opinions of the bill. An amendment included in the Senate version adds university ID cards to the list of “acceptable identification” to appease outrage from college students: many vote in Pennsylvania, but have driver’s licenses from their home states. The Patriot News called the bill’s rules “extreme,” and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said the bill is “all about helping Republicans.”
Not all of the opinions that have been expressed have been negative, however. TheLancaster New Era says the bill “aids the electoral process” by cutting down on many different types of voter fraud.