Pennsylvania Democrats move to repeal voter ID law
The law, passed on March 14, would disenfranchise some college students
April 18, 2012, 12:30 am·
The newly passed voter ID law has drawn challenges from lawmakers and activist organizations.
Two Pennsylvania Democrats introduced another bill, HB 2313, in the House of Representatives today which would repeal the controversial law, which passed on March 14.
“We realize that sometime down the road the courts may very well strike down the Pennsylvania voter ID law,” Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a press release, “but I believe in taking a proactive step in removing this unnecessary and potentially costly statute.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Pennsylvania branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People are also preparing a legal challenge to the voter ID law.
Opponents of the bill believe it unnecessarily disenfranchises voters, particularly students, senior citizens and minorities.
The current law requires voters to provide a valid form of photo identification in order to vote. Valid forms of ID include passports, Pennsylvania drivers’ licenses and student IDs issued by a Pennsylvania college. IDs must have an expiration date to count as valid.
While PennCards will count as valid photo ID under the new law, many other college ID cards will not because they do not carry expiration dates. Of 114 accredited Pennsylvania colleges surveyed, 86 did not have expiration dates on their IDs, Director of Civil Engagement for the Pennsylvania NAACP John Jordan said.
“It’s not just students who can use this ID,” Committee of Seventy Vice President and Policy Director Ellen Kaplan said. “It covers students, faculty and alumni.” The Committee of Seventy is a Philadelphia-based political watchdog group and nonpartisan research and election information source.
Many schools whose IDs do not have an expiration date are considering adding stickers to their IDs that would have an expiration date, she said. That would make the IDs valid at the polls.
There is doubt as to whether or not the new bill will pass a Republican-dominated legislature.
“The original law still passed despite all the criticism,” College Republicans Political Director and College freshman Anthony Cruz said. “I don’t see how it would get repealed.”
The voter ID law passed by a margin of 104 to 88 in the House and 26 to 23 in the Senate before Gov. Tom Corbett (R-Pa.) signed it into law. Most of the votes were along party lines.
“I would hope that someone is willing to cross the aisle and do what’s right for the voters and not what’s right for their party,” Jordan said.
Members of Penn Democrats strongly oppose the law; they had circulated a petition around campus against the bill’s passage.The ACLU and NAACP are still seeking plaintiffs for their case against the voter ID law. The case will be filed around the first week of May, according to Jordan.