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A-K lawmakers react after judge strikes down state's voter ID law

| Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, 12:11 a.m.
STATE SEN. JAMES BREWSTER
State House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont.

Reaction from local lawmakers to a state judge's ruling that struck down Pennsylvania's voter ID law was, predictably, right down party lines.

Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley struck down the 2-year-old law, which had yet to actually be enforced.

The law required people who wanted to vote to provide photo identification at their polling place before they could cast their ballot.

McGinley said in his 103-page opinion that the law would put an unreasonable burden on citizens trying to exercise their right to vote and referred to the law as “unconstitutional on its face.”

State Rep. Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, said he is pleased by McGinley's ruling.

“This was legislation to suppress voter turnout,” Dermody said. “I'm glad the courts ruled that way.

“This was an attempt by the conservative wing of the Republican Party to influence elections,” he said.

Dermody said he believes the bill targeted specific groups of people and tried to disenfranchise them.

“They know it has an impact on senior citizens, minorities and the disabled,” he said. “It was always about vote suppression.

“But they couldn't point to a case of voter fraud in the state,” he said. “That's because there isn't voter fraud in Pennsylvania.”

Conversely, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, said McGinley's ruling was strictly a partisan one.

“I think the decision by the judge was an activist and partisan decision on his part,” he said. “He's working on behalf of the Democratic Party and not the citizens of Pennsylvania.”

Metcalfe said he hopes McGinley's ruling is appealed.

“I certainly hope the administration will appeal this,” he said, “and I hope the Supreme Court will ensure the will of the majority of Pennsylvanians is protected.

“You have to do it (show identification) to cash a check, to get on a plane, to rent a car and to harvest deer in the woods,” he said. “I worked on this for a decade. Pennsylvania is very late in coming to the table to ensure this policy is on the plate.”

State Sen. Jim Brewster, D-McKeesport, said he believed the law was completely political and wasn't intended to help Pennsylvanians.

“When Rep. Turzai said this law would help Mitt Romney win the state, it became clear this was political,” he said. “When that became part of the equation, it was obvious this wasn't intended to help citizens.”

Brewster, who is a self-proclaimed conservative Democrat, was referencing remarks made by Rep. Mike Turzai in June 2012 while speaking at a Republican State Committee meeting.

“Voter ID, which is gonna [sic] allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done,” Turzai said in those remarks.

Brewster said he believes everyone should vote.

“I don't think we should be trying to punish an older person who's been going to the same polling place for decades and misplaces their ID,” he said. “In this day and age, we shouldn't try to dissuade people from voting.”

R.A. Monti is a freelance reporterfor Trib Total Media.

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