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Voters don't have to 'show it,' but may not know it

| Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, 1:16 a.m.

Carolina Blazina thought she had everything squared away when it comes to voting in today's election.

“You need a photo ID,” Blazina, 53, of Harrison said when asked what she would need.

But that is not the case.

Pennsylvania's voter ID law is still hung up in the judicial system as Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley has not ruled on it. McGinley must decide whether the law, which is being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union as unconstitutional, should be stopped with a permanent injunction.

In August, McGinley issued an order saying voters do not have to show identification for today's election. However, poll workers can still ask for it.

“I don't think it should be like that,” Blazina said. “We don't need it. I think it is to keep people from voting.”

“I heard it was not necessary,” said Hollie Miller, 50, of New Kensington.

She said she thought it was required until she heard a news report that said voters do not have to show ID.

Miller also thinks the law isn't needed. She thinks it could prevent some senior citizens from voting.

“The elderly have a hard time,” she said. “What if they don't have a driver's license? What if they can't find their birth certificate?”

“They have a right to have their voices heard,” she said.

Miller, a former notary public, pointed out that when it comes to getting documents certified, even notaries are not required to ask for ID if they know the person. She said the polls, which are neighborhood-based, are like that.

“I'm from Aluminum City Terrace and when I go to vote, I know everybody there,” Miller said.

Taxpayers have spent $6 million in advertising for a voter ID law that Pennsylvanians don't have to obey for the fourth consecutive election on Tuesday. More than $1 million has gone toward television, radio and print advertisements since Sept. 30, urging voters to “show it” — even though they don't have to.

“No way are they (poll workers) to lead the voter to think that it may be the law,” said Westmoreland County Election Bureau Director Jim Montini.

But it seems as though voters have already accepted the law's requirement to show an ID, according to the directors of the elections bureaus in Butler and Armstrong counties.

Shari Brewer, Butler County's elections director, said her office has not been getting calls to clarify what voters have to do. She said there were more calls last year for the presidential election.

“We got a few, basically wanting to know what was acceptable,” she said. “But nothing of what we were expecting with the Voter ID law.”

Brewer said some voters last year were irate about the law.

“We just told them, as far as the law, that we didn't make it — the legislators did. And we tried to point them in the right direction,” Brewer said. “I think at this point most of the voters are getting used to it. Once the law is changed, it shouldn't be a problem: Our voters are pretty well acclimated to it.”

The situation appears to be the same in Armstrong County.

“I haven't been really receiving a lot of calls,” said Wendy Buzard, director of Armstrong's Elections Bureau.

“We've told the elections officers to ask voters for IDs, and if they do not have them to let them vote,” she said. “Under a directive from the state, we are required to ask.”

She thinks most voters believe they have to show identification.

“It is very confusing,” Buzard said. “Why are we asking if it is not a law yet?

“In my opinion, we shouldn't be asking. But the Department of State is my boss when it comes to elections, and I have to listen to them.”

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or The Trib's Melissa Daniels and Rich Cholodofsky contributed to this report.

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