NAACP officer calls state's voter ID law confusing
HARRISBURG — Witnesses at a hearing on Tuesday regarding the state's voter-identification law painted a bleak landscape of voters confused by the new photo requirement.
They said they believe that PennDOT officials are dispensing misinformation and offering conflicting estimates of how many voters lack valid IDs.
“The information is just not getting out quick enough” to ensure that voters know about the law and understand how to comply, testified John Jordan, director of civic engagement for the NAACP.
His group is among plaintiffs in a Commonwealth Court lawsuit seeking to prevent the law from taking effect — the first step toward a broader challenge of its constitutionality.
Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday.
Judge Robert Simpson, a Republican, has said he hopes to issue a ruling during the week of Aug. 13.
The photo-ID law, which the Republican-controlled Legislature approved earlier this year without any Democratic votes, requires every voter to show a valid photo ID — one of the nation's strictest ID laws. The law represents a significant change from the current requirement, in which only people voting in a polling place for the first time must show identification, including non-photo documents such as a utility bill or bank statement.
The law has provoked a fierce debate over voting rights as Pennsylvania is poised to play a potentially crucial role in the presidential election. Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to erect barriers to voting in an effort to gain an advantage for presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a state that President Obama carried in 2008.
Secretary of State Carol Aichele, the state's top elections official, testified about her department's efforts to make PennDOT IDs — a driver's license or a non-driver photo card — the standard for complying with the new law.
Aichele said 91 percent of the state's 8.3 million voters have valid IDs and that the PennDOT cards — free to voters who lack other acceptable IDs — are the “most useful” form of photo ID.
The plaintiffs contend that at least 1 million voters don't have valid IDs. Aichelem though, said state officials believe the number is “substantially less” than the 759,000 voters whose names were not found in a comparison with a PennDOT database.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt football notebook: Athletic department seeking fans’ input
- Pa. bear hunters off to good start
- Pirates star McCutchen marries in private ceremony
- Hockey loses pair of legendary figures in Quinn, Tikhonov
- NFL notebook: Chiefs safety Berry may have lymphoma
- PennDOT work to close lanes on Parkways
- Stocks stake claim in record territory
- Pine-Richland’s ‘Neil’ the ram has happy home
- Grand jury reaches decision in Ferguson shooting
- U.S. Steel to relocate corporate headquarters on former Civic Arena site
- With sanctions, sliding oil prices, Russia losing more than $100B a year, finance minister says