Opponents of Pennsylvania’s new Voter ID law are asking the Commonwealth Court to block enforcement before the November election. “Article 1, section 5 of Pennsylvania’s constitution guarantees that elections shall be free and equal,” says Marian Schneider of the Advancement Project.
The petitioners contend that one million Pennsylvanians are eligible to vote but lack the photo ID required under Pennsylvania’s new law. “If you’ve listed to the proponents of the law… you would have the impression that everyone either has photo ID or they can easily get it. Their message is that photo ID is used for everything, what’s the big deal,” says attorney David Gersch. “It is a big deal.”
The hearing before Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson starts Wednesday morning, and is expected to continue through most of next week.
Despite critics’ complaints, state officials are standing by the new law. “Really for this size issue in Pennsylvania, I think the challenges we’re facing are relatively small,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele told reporters in Gettysburg last week. She was responding to questions about the more than 750,000 registered voters that aren’t already in the PennDOT database.
Letters are going out to every one of them, reminding them of the new law and the complete list of acceptable IDs. The Department of State has also announced the creation of a new card that can be issued to voters who need identification under the law, and who are unable to provide all the documents they would normally need to obtain a PennDOT ID.
But it’s not enough to assuage the hundreds of protesters who gathered on the state capitol steps Tuesday. Their rally cry: “Voter ID, Not for Me.” Among the speakers was Sen. Daylin Leach, who says that even the Commonwealth’s lawyers agree there’s no evidence of in-person voter fraud.
“This bill was passed under false pretenses. That’s why I’ve introduced a bill to repeal the Voter ID bill,” Leach announced to a round of applause at Tuesday’s rally. Additional rallies are planned in Pittsburgh, Allentown and Philly on Wednesday.