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State Democratic leader says ID law could prevent him from voting

| Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, 1:02 p.m.

HARRISBURG — State Rep. Frank Dermody leads the House Democratic Caucus, having been re-elected every two years since he first won a House seat in 1990.

But he might not be able to vote in the Nov. 6 general election.

The Oakmont lawmaker on Wednesday said he received a letter from Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele suggesting he might not have adequate voter identification to cast a ballot under the state's new voter-identification law.

The department recently compared voter lists with databases from PennDOT, which issues the primary form of acceptable photo ID — a driver's license.

On his driver's license, the lawmaker is Frank J. Dermody. His given name, however, is Francis J. Dermody. He said he has been trying to shed “Francis” since he was 16.

The letter is indicative of the confusion that surrounds the state's voter ID law, which the Republican-led House and Senate approved, Dermody said. A challenge is pending in Commonwealth Court, and Judge Robert Simpson could issue a decision this month. Simpson will issue a ruling whether the law should be suspended for the Nov. 6 election.

“This certainly isn't ready to be implemented in November,” Dermody said.

About 760,000 people received letters like Dermody's.

“This is a joke,” Dermody said of the letter. “They should have saved the postage.”

Aichele's spokesman Nick Winkler said the letter shows the “opposite” of what Dermody is claiming. It shows the great lengths the department has taken to make sure as many people as possible vote.

The letter never was intended to form a list of Pennsylvanians who don't have voter ID. Instead, the letter is an “internal tool” to help the department determine who still might need photo ID.

Brad Bumsted is state Capitol reporter for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached at 717-787-1405 and bbumsted@tribweb.com.

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